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CD Feature/ Nadja: "Corrasion"

img  Tobias

Even though it is not necessarily a conscious effort, the cross-fertilisation between Aidan Baker’s work as a writer and as a musician is obvious: Parts of his poems have appeared in the titles of his albums as well as in their cover art work and the few lyrics he has written amidst a mostly instrumental oeuvre were never far from his literary output in terms of mood and motives.

Just as with books, his CDs are being reprinted and reissued in new editions to meet demand by ever-new fans and followers. The same is now happening to the backcatalogue of his band Nadja, “Corrasion” being the first of what will almost certainly soon constitute a process of making the entire CD-R releases available again.

Next to the immediate practical advantages of not having to search the web for these long sold-out items any more, replenishing the stock will also bring necessary insight into the pre-Alien8 days, when Nadja was still widely considered more of a sideproject and when the rawness and heaviness of the music, to many, were more of a turn-off  than a factor of fascination. 

To me, too, it had seemed as though the mixed double of Baker and Buckareff had been going from strength to strength of lately, following up the delirious visions of their second Fear Falls Burning collaboration with an exercise in eclecticism (the controversial “Guilted by the Sun” on Equation Records) and the epic symphonies for glaciers and tectonic plates of “Radiance of Shadows”. “Corrasion”, however, recorded a full four years ago for Foreshadow Productions, shows that Nadja were already not all that far from reaching for the stars with only their fourth release in a sizeable discography.

Admittedly, the symbiosis between plaintive Ambient elements and the sludgy maelstrom of slowed-down powerchord riffs and emotive drumming was not as refined as it is now. Passages of neurotic drones were harvesters for Baker’s distorted grunts, instead of melting into hymnical rivers of sound and energy. And yet, the will to go beyond the restricted confinements of both worlds is all apparent. 

On opener “Base Fluid”, the distorted impulses are guided through a canyon of bittersweet harmonies and on the twenty-minute “Amniotic”, the mantra-like repetition of the cold and remorseless main riff leads into a clarified and warm coda. Nadja do not avoid the cliches of the genre, but they play with them in a way which makes the ingredients seem fresh and interesting again: There may not be many colleagues capable of restraining themselves as much as these two Canadians on the post-rock bass vibration of the title piece, which never leaves its initial state of frenzied hypnosis for the sake of a resolution.

Only a year later, the band were back with a 3’’ split EP with Moss. These three tracks, included here as a most welcome bonus, show a completely different face of the band. Again, tracks are long and winding, yet they have a far more experimental feeling to them. AC/DC arpeggios are bubbling underneath the feedback study “I am as Earth” and the almost ten minutes of “White Lies” burn with an industrial vigour. Middle movement “Ash”, meanwhile, features their possibly most catchy and accessible guitar work ever – a most unlikely hit.

While the early years were certainly equally intense and powerful, they were also a time of searching for the essence of the project, of playing with manifold ideas and of trying on various styles. Nadja would later return to this period with “Trembled” on Utech Records, which included a cover of “Corrasion”, before entering a new phase of stability. This record, however, proves that there is no continuity break between the two eras. They neither can nor should be separated, just like the literary and musical work of Aidan Baker will always remain entangled.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Nadja
Homepage: Foreshadow Productions

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