Posts Tagged ‘Elecronic’

Hallow Ground – HG2001 – 28th February 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Electric Sewer Age began as a collaborative project between Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson (of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, and Coil) and Danny Hyde, who continued the project together with John Deek, who subsequently passed away in 2013. It’s perhaps only natural that a sense of bleakness, of darkness, of a certain sense of grief permeates Electric Sewer Age, as a project strewn with loss.

Contemplating Nothingness is the third release by Electric Sewer Age, and the second one that Hyde finished alone, following on from Bad White Corpuscle, originally released in 2014, and re-released in 2016.

Contemplating Nothingness is pitched as ‘a lysergic tapestry culled from the deep end of the collective pop cultural unconscious’. It begins with some spaced-out trippy, doodly interweaving drones and some disorientating analogue latticeworks and shuffling electronic judderings providing the backdrop to some reverby, echoic vocals before transitioning into woozy dance territory, a stammering heartbeat bass beat fluttering beneath shifting layers of disquiet which collide with elliptical elisions to dance tropes.

‘Got some bad news this morning / which in turn made my day’, Hyde wheezes in a distorted Al Jourgensen-style vocal on ‘Whose Gonna Save my Soul’. I try not to wince too hard and the grammatical error and instead focus on the dark atmospherics the song conjured. Moreover, this single line encapsulates the contradictions which stand at the very foundations of this album, and the track itself delves into swampy dark ambience, dominated by a rhythmic wash, with Eastern motifs twisting in and out sporadically amidst a lower-end washing ebb and flow while the vocal, half-buried, is detached, distant.

Like its predecessor, Contemplating Nothingness is dark and difficult. Slow beats that land somewhere between heavy hip-hop, trip-hop and industrial drive ‘Chebo’, a delirious drag of chimes and electronic ululations. ‘Surrender to the Crags’ plunges into dark, dank, murkiness, but retains that eastern vibe that calls to mind both The Master Musicians of Joujouka and the otherness of the Tangiers scene in the 50s and 60s as depicted by William Burroughs.

‘Self Doubting Trip’ brings a dark intensity that will likely resonate for many: it’s claustrophobic and uncomfortable, and stands as something of a highlight in the way it attacks the psyche. You hate yourself enough already, but there’s a slight comfort in knowing your self-flagellation is not unique as you chastise yourself for simply living.

It makes the last track, ‘Dekotour’, feel like an electropop breeze by comparison, the chiming synth tones more early Depeche Mode than anything, but they bend, warp, twist and weave across one another to create a difficult knot of noise, with a thick, gloopy bass rising into the increasingly tangled textures.

There’s a certain nihilism at the heart of Contemplating Nothingness, which extends beyond merely the title and its implications of introverted emptiness, but it’s paired with a less certain and altogether less tangible levity which lifts it above dark ambience and into a space that’s given to contemplation and awakening. While ultimately minimal, there is variety and depth on display here, making for an album that deserves absorption and deliberation.

AA

Electric Sewer Age – Contemplating Nothingness

Inter-Dimensional Recordings – 1st June 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The greatest pressure for any emerging artist must surely to be to get product out onto the market: something to satisfy new fans and entice prospective fans. The urge to splurge material, whether ready or not, in order to strike while the iron is hot is more than most can resist. Nathassia is indeed a rare artist, and, it would seem, something of a perfectionist. Recording as Nathassia Devine, she had a 13-track debut album recorded, packaged, and in circulation to the press, finding favourable reviews (including one from me). That was 2014. The album was shelved. It’s now 2016, and a lot has happened. Having decided to pull back and regroup, restyling herself as Nathassia, she’s spent the intervening time reshaping her sound and building an enviable audience at home and internationally. Finally, she’s satisfied, and the end product is Light of the World. And yes, it was worth the wait.

Cut back to 10 tracks, only four songs from the original album remain. Having honed her songs with the assistance of Bruce Elliott-Smith, Light of the World finds Nathassia exploring cross-cultural music evermore broadly and evermore confidently. Half Dutch, half Indian and residing in London, Light of the World is very much a 21st century hybrid of these very different cultural backgrounds. It’s an electronic album, but not one that confirms to any one strain or style, leaping hither and thither and picking, magpie-like, from a host of musical strands.

Nathassia’s striking appearance is the perfect visual representation of her sound, and embodies her mixed roots, as East meets West in a perfect amalgamation. But this is no mere marketing schtick: she is very much a self-made package, and one which has immense market appeal both visually and sonically.

Contrast and juxtaposition lie at the heart of Light of the World, but rather than treat this yin and yang as conflicting elements, she embraces them and draws them together to intriguing effect. The sultry ‘Egypt’s Queen’ finds Nathassia rolling her r’s and accentuating the eastern influences of her music. Single cut ‘Turning Headz’ is more hard-edged and showcases a driving, drum ‘n’ bass orientated sound, something which wasn’t present on the original album, and similarly, ‘Parasite’ is driven by a grating bass and insistent, industrial-edged drumming. Melding insistent beats with snarling techno, it’s dark in hue, and paired with Nathassia’s keeningly exotic vocal delivery that’s tinged with a hint of venom, it’s a powerful piece.

Elsewhere, the title track spins out an expansive, cosmic vibe, highlighting the diversity of the material on Light of the World. It certainly isn’t an album that works to a formula, and stands as a truly multidimensional piece. It helps, of course, that the range is matched by the quality of the material.

Light of the World is an album which not only reveals Nathassia to be a fascinating, chameleon-like songsmith and performer, but a distinctive and even unique voice.

 

light-of-the-world-album-artwork

Nathassia Online