The NHART Demo[n]s by NeraterræRelease date: September 15, 2017
I’m just coming off watching Blade Runner 2049, so reviewing this album makes perfect sense. The songs here on Neraterræ’s The NHART Demo[n]s soundtrack the vacant listlessness of the various empty and lost spaces and people that one encounters in that sort of futurist dystopia. Of course, since our world is becoming more and more vacant, listless, empty, and lost (albeit without the grand architecture, rain in Los Angeles, or robots) this music makes a fitting soundtrack for the times.
Neraterræ is a deeply alienating project, and I mean that as a high form of praise. There’s a certain school of thought that praises music for being off-putting, upsetting, and downright violent. It bespeaks the troubling nature of music that Throbbing Gristle, for instance, was used as a torture device. I certainly count myself among that school, as I think we all need a little more ontological terror in our lives to push ourselves out of the saccharine holding pattern that our constant online lives encourage.
Of course, to do that, music needs to be active or, in the case of drone, active in its passivity, highlighting the essentially ephemeral nature of music, where each note comes into being and passes away simultaneously. In any case, music, if it aspires to ontological terrorism, needs stakes. It needs to know the pressure points of society and its listeners. I’m not sure if The NHART Demo[n]s has that. I started my review off by comparing it to a soundtrack – but this isn’t a soundtrack. The songs limn, but I struggle to find the sort of intra-song structure and design that would encourage me not view it as something that is windowdressing for something else that doesn’t exist. It’s not very terrorizing, in other words.
But this is a demos album first and foremost, which means that I’m willing to overlook these sorts of flaws in favor of artistic promise. And there is that in spades. As I mentioned, this album is alienating, and the use of cold synths and mechanical noises show a highly attuned ear attending to the architecture of soundscapes. And the various “re-work” tracks are definitely the highlight of the album. ‘Rainroom’ and ‘Eternal Travel’ are easily the standout pieces, as they incorporate a woozy melody within the soundscape; ‘Rainroom’ gets extra credit for using rain sounds, and thereby opening the door to further explorations with field recordings (or riffing on them, at least).
All this being said, I absolutely look forward to more work from this project in the future, and, y’know, if nothing else, sometimes a little windowdressing ain’t bad either.