This is the latest release from Nadja, a doom/drone duo from Canada.
If you haven’t encountered the highly prolific and individual Nadja before, then I highly recommend them. Having amassed a pretty dauntingly huge discography over the years, Nadja have released some impressive music in their time.
What they lack in instant appeal they more than make up for in slow-burning atmospheres and building soundscapes. There’s also an extremely pleasing rhythmic quality to a lot of their work. There’s a large selection of doom/drone bands that neglect the percussive elements of the style, but Nadja recognise the importance of this, and a large body of their work features wonderfully delivered percussion in some form or another.
Which brings us to Sv. This latest album features one track, Sievert, which lasts 41 minutes. Consisting of a combination of noises, drone explorations, claustrophobic percussion and negatively-charged bass, it’s an immense aural undertaking that deserves your full attention.
The track fizzes and drones, slowly building tension until about the 7 minute mark where some slight hints of percussion start to make themselves felt. I love a song that focuses on tension, and here it is slowly ramped up in a very effective way.
Nadja have the skills required to effectively develop atmosphere absolutely nailed down. By the 12 minute mark the tension is still ramped up to 11, while the atmosphere is so taut that it feels like something is going to snap if there’s no release soon. The bass is slowly becoming more rhythmic too, and small hints of melody are becoming more apparent, swimming almost out of sight under the main droning.
At 14 minutes I find myself starting to hypnotically sway to the music’s subtle beats. It’s deceptive and mildly disturbing.
I’m in some form of dazed-out trance by the 16 minute mark. Actual drums seem to have appeared from somewhere at some point. The noise-drone is getting to me. Unable to think apart from in squeals. The bass now sounds like the most authentically malevolent thing I’ve ever heard.
20 minutes in and I’m convinced that the undercurrent of droning noise is trapped, howling daemons and disembodied ghosts. The rest of the music has slowly morphed into a kind of pseudo-industrial dirge with mechanical rhythms, all the while keeping the atmosphere and tension ramped up.
23 minutes; the percussion has hit another level. Reality now seems a far away distant prospect, and I am utterly and completely absorbed.
25 minutes; something is trying to get it. I’m not sure what. I can hear it, just picking away in the background. I think it wants me.
27 minutes; something has happened. The drone/noise influences have suddenly taken a back seat and the rest of the music is now playing with full-force. The relief is palpable, but the atmosphere is not absent, just transformed.
At 30 minutes there’s yet another shift. Sounding doomier and more apocalyptic than ever, the music now sounds in full flow and like it’s hammering on the gates of Heaven with a nihilistically bleak optimism. It’s hard to describe, but the conflicting emotions that Nadja drag out of the listener is unsettling.
33 minutes into this monolithic track and it sounds like things are starting to wind down, although this is more of an impression than any form of fait accompli. The music is now at its heaviest and the atmosphere has turned, becoming concurrently both darker and brighter.
36 minutes and things are noticeably simpler, although that doesn’t mean that there’s not still a large emotive content.
At 37 minutes I’m beginning to notice the odd bright piano note. It sounds curiously out of place and yet completely at home.
By 39 minutes the music has almost completely spent itself, and I too, feel like I’ve had all my emotion rung out of me. I feel dazed, happy, confused and a little unsure of where the last 40 minutes have gone. But it’s all for a good cause; this is music that has impact and changes the listener, for better or for worse.
By the end of the track I find it hard to think how I’m going to listen to regular music again, at least for a short while. It’s like the feeling you get when you have watched something so very powerful that you can’t imagine watching anything else right after it. A break is needed to reacclimatize to real life and the mundanities of existence. So it is with Nadja, who have temporarily ruined all other music for me.
It doesn’t last, of course, but the beauty is that it happened at all. Sv is a real experience, one that I can’t wait to have again.
Nadja have truly outdone themselves on Sv. This is a hugely impressive, utterly absorbing and fascinating piece of music.
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