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CD Feature/ Fear Falls Burning & Nadja: "st"

img  Tobias

One of the first crunching guitar chords struck on this album is left to linger for exactly sixty-one seconds. I counted them, one by one. It is an experience in itself to watch the little finger of your clock as it moves on the dial while the music looses itself in a frenzy of distorted bass and shreeking feedback and absolutely nothing “happens”. Or does it? Doom may not be your regular musical style right from the start - already in the world of metal this musical pit of sorrow made up of slowmotion structures as well as vocals stretched and down-pitched to the point of incomprehensibility is the niche of niches. But even considering the standards of the genre, this meeting between Belgium’s Fear Falls Burning and Canada’s Nadja is definitely “far out”. On the other hand, it is also majestic, magnetic, monolithic, monumental, massive, meticulous and – which comes as the real surprise – extremely diverse.

A promising tangent: Equlibrium and Noise

On the one hand, this was to be suspected. Just imagine the preconditions: Fear Falls Burning, one of the distinct voices on the scene with a harsh and yet spaceous guitar-drone style, gets together with Nadja, the musical liaison of Leah Buckareff (Bass, Vocals) and Aidan Baker (Guitar and a host of other instruments), who, know a thing or two about building mesmerising and shimmering atmospherics as well. The differences between the projects are obvious (and be they only that Baker and Buckareff are by default closer to the traditional band format), but so is their most promising tangent: The belief that a trance state can be induced by a sustained equilibrium or maddening noise alike. While their first collaborational release, also released on Conspiracy Records, explored the latter in great detail, it is the inclusion of the former into the body of these four compositions that makes this a truly unique offering.

Constant development: Meditative, stimulating and poignant
Not that there was anything wrong with “We have departed the circle blissfully”. And yet, this vinyl-only album at least for my ears rather leaned towards the more brutal sides of both projects, blurring the dividing lines between the individual contributions. Here, however, they are left intact and with them come breathtaking frictions at their border: After the aforementioned harsh and hypnotic opening, a melodic drone (very likely courtesy of FFB’s Dirk Serries) peels itself off gargantuan guitar tremors in the second track and forces the depressively dragging drums into a bizarre and unexpected groove. The last piece even opens with nightmarish and harmonically opaque pads, before the band comes crashing in for an intense and murderous slowburning finale. The free form of the the music hints at a rather loose agenda, without any overly concrete organisation in its preliminary stages. Dirk agrees: “Naturally the 'success' of our first lp together (also for Conspiracy) made us long for another collaboration, but one that would unite our vision in terms of theme, drone and dynamics more than we executed on our vinyl release. This was the only kind of dialogue we had on the album.” Everything happened by sending tracks hence and forth between the actors and the entire album was finished in an indeed record-breaking time of just a month.

So what makes this work so special, apart from the fact that it takes the collaboration of these two projects to new heights? Serries puts it well when he claims that “it's not predominantly distorted or droney but over the course of the entire album the music breathes and it has a nice ebb & flow between our styles and approaches.” Indeed, even though the tracks are merged and the total playing time does ammount to almost exactly an hour, the constant development of these pieces and their unbending experimental nature make it a meditative, stimulating and poignant experience. It all comes together in the third installment on the disc, its blues licks breaking at the cliffs of mantra-like percussions and dub bass figures.

And yet there is something else, which brings us back to the opening remarks. While western tradition has mainly been interested in harmonic progression, Fear Falls Burning and Nadja care more for the cosmos contained within a single chord, within its reverberations and undulations. Their semi-epic aural convolutions are shamanic searches for an answer to this question and take listeners to places where other and unprecedented factors take the upper hand. You’ll have to listen to this album yourself to find out what they may be – and what they may mean.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Fear Falls Burning
Homepage: Fear Falls Burning at MySpace
Homepage: Nadja
Homepage: Conspiracy Records

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