By: Owen Coggins
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Released on March 14, 2016 via Essence Music
I’ve ended up approaching Nadja’s extensive discography in a similar way to the sprawling list of Boris releases. At times the range and sheer number of records in each band’s catalogue is bewildering, and, while I can acknowledge the value in an endlessly inquisitive experimentalism, I find some areas of their musical inquiry lapsing into irony or purposeless wanderings. Since I’m generally more interested in an all-encompassing, single-minded exploration of an idea than a scattershot inclusion of everything you can think of, my guiding solution is simple: the fewer tracks on each album the better. For Boris this holds, with my favourite albums of theirs all featuring five or fewer (Amplifier Worship, Flood, At Last Feedbacker and, best of all, the single 65-minute track/album Absolutego). For Nadja as well, for me the high point is 2007’s Thaumogenesis, another hour long single-track album, with other favourites mainly featuring side-long pieces, such as Sky Burial and the collaborations with Black Boned Angel. New album Sv features a single track called ‘Sievert’, a fact which immediately promises good things.
It’s on one hand a classic Nadja record, a slowly developing, smouldering burner, which gradually shifts through subtly unfolding variations, with a distinctive flavour of harsh but ambient distortion hiss. On the other, it’s a bit unusual for this band in its percussive, rhythmic complexity, which is present almost throughout. We start with some edgy plate-scraping, sinister-ventilation-system creeping and whispering, with a steady insistent beat emerging slowly from a mere pulse of thick air. Once the rhythm is set up, the machine-ghost squeaks give way to a more subterranean groaning hum, the gravity of the track slowly but unstoppably gathering momentum around itself. Then, soon after, the buzzing drones become collected together in a hovering mass, which in turn shuffles itself around like a Transformer changing from a helicopter into a robot riff on wheels, which then smashes along, energetic but controlled, for a few minutes.
The 42-ish-minute piece is an everchanging refraction of drones, which could almost be described as industrial ambient. While the shifts take place gradually enough, you can always tell it’s consistently morphing into something else, with the level pace of development making it seem totally relentless. Two thirds of the way through, the different phases become a bit more dramatically implemented (though this coulf also be seen as part of the inexorable cast-iron linear development). The rhythm drops out a bit underneath, emphasising the riff, or later on there’s some distinctive high pitched metal sawblade screeches. Finally we fade into a quietening, monotone version of the rhythm of the riff, and between a ticking hi-hat and a sort of piano version of the ER bleeps, the industrial creature finally lapses into sleep.