Monday, 14 September 2009

Nadja - Clinging to the Edge of the Sky. 70/100.

‘Clinging to the Edge of the Sky’ has solemnly made its way into my world, with its head hung low and feet dragging across the ground like a depleted and depressed individual. Without much of a bang, Nadja have continued their tradition of releasing piece after piece in this already action packed year. Reminiscent of the slower paced ambiance pioneered on efforts such as ‘Desire In Uneasiness’, which remains one of my favourite Nadja epics, and even slight tinges of the Om, Nadja have opted for a more laid back approach. This Canadian duo have always been difficult to review and summarise because of their minimalistic approach, that relies almost entirely on providing the listener with a visual experience within one’s own mind. Nadja journey’s are generally personal, some might even say spiritual. Once again, like bands such as the loosely religious feeling Om, Nadja have decided to reduce the feedback from the guitars and omit the distortion from the soundscapes. The repetition still exists and old flames are reignited with passion and pride as Nadja fuel the fires that extinguished a while ago with this EP that is similar to days of old, but consistent enough not to warrant a dramatic change.

I have a feeling that the EP’s are always going to be formulaic, just like ‘Clinging to the Edge of the Sky’ is, but the full-lengths are where most of the effort is exerted. 2008 was a major success for Nadja. It was a year which saw the Canadians draw attention away from their old ways of minimalistic drone and incorporate a new, ambient texture into the music that wasn’t solely based on the idea of a clichéd wall-of-noise sound. On efforts like ‘Desire In Uneasiness’, Nadja relaxed their muscles and opened up to new ideas that would strike the listener as exciting and fresh. These ideas have been taken on here, too, but to a lesser extent given the free-flowing nature of the song that makes it sound more like your average jamming session, rather than a concerted effort to produce something wildly shocking, or innovative for the band. This EP does differ from certain others, such as ‘Christ Send Light’, a more recent effort. There are no vocals from Aidan. His voice isn’t utilised here and a drum machine has replaced the more flexible usage of an actual drummer on efforts like ‘Desire In Uneasiness’. This gives Nadja a more synthetic feel, but the slow, repetitious drums aren’t the central figure of this creative, but not so dynamic piece.

I try not to take the insignificance of the percussion to heart too much because the combination of the bass and guitars is where the atmospherics gain most of their prosperity. However, the percussion couldn’t provide its usual pounding performance because the soundscapes don’t call for a powerful performance. In fact, nothing about this EP screams power. Its timid, more so than anything else. The Om-like bass lines, courtesy of Leah, are a pivotal expressionist element of the soundscapes, which rarely deviate over the course of the songs duration. Leah is a talented bassist. She has a way with minimalism that allows her to corrupt the sound waves with minimal effort, and a muted sound. She doesn’t have to muster much of a performance, in terms of command, to provide Nadja with a backbone that is strong enough to support this lengthy addition. The similarities to bands like Om are small, but significant. The texture of the bass, the way in which it moves around like a free spirit, is similar to that of Om’s bassist. The bass is pivotal to the structure of the songs, but doesn’t exacerbate its role, or scream about its own self importance.

The bass, alongside the mellow guitar, are lucid dreams in a world demonised by the terrible acts of humanity. These mellow bursts of slow, drudging soundscapes are soothing and capable of entrancing the listener into a dream like state, whereby we envision a whole host of surreal images and clashing entities. The magic of Nadja has always been in the atmospherics, which have always liked to make themselves heard. Though this EP doesn’t represent the best of Nadja, it is worthy of our attention and a fantastic song for night time escapades, or music to sleep to. Thus far, 2009 has been a mixed year for Nadja and not really represented the best of their abilities. With a cover record and some obscure full-lengths alongside it, this EP doesn’t match the quality with its minimalist content that 2008’s epics delivered on a monumental scale. Not a defining moment in the history of Nadja.

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