Nils Quak – Long Forgotten Days Under A Dust Covered Sky
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Swathed in static, the opening track of the first of two new Nils Quak albums this year (the second is due in July), sets the tone for this collection of landscapes. Pips, pops – closer to the rhythmic exercises of headphone techno than cinematic music might usually aspire to; blossoming clouds of grainy chords, subterranean rumblings – distant thunderclouds, echoing in the invisible space of Quak’s computer. And while these tracks aren’t diagrams of mountains, faded memories hinted at by the cover photograph, they are maps. They are landscapes.
Not in the strict sense of describing a place, evoking a particular space – whether countryside or city – that the term usually suggests – but an overlapping venn diagram of sound spaces, most conjured from the inbetween space of granular synthesis, of looped fragments, of the landscape between the left ear and the right.
Evocations of place and memory are always tied up to a greater or lesser degree with nostalgia – but the only wistfulness on the album is suggested by the track titles – People Don’t Live Here Anymore, I’ve Watched You From A Distance. The locked vinyl loops of Sweet Entropy, the burst of rhythmic radio noise on How Soon the Day Ended, add an urgency to this record that is compounded by the flicking of sounds across the stereo field.
The buried field recordings are just another layer here – like any sound of this kind, they can’t help but point to a ‘real’ location – but the crunched footsteps in the second half of Sweet Entropy, add to that track’s uneasy sense of rhythmic cycling, that puts it closer to Pole than to (say) Federico Durand. In other parts of the album, the location recording feels like functions of the other sounds – stray frequencies pulling the main loops and chords in or out of darkness.
Landscapes then, of overlapping tones and techniques. Diagrams of colour and distortion – of which the second half of the album has plenty – washes of chorused guitar and piano on November My Dear, grainy crackles and warm, speaker-troubling bassy chords on I’ve Spent A Lifetime Waiting.
The two final tracks are smudges of boiling beautiful noise, a perfect way to straighten out the lines, lift the spirits. Long Forgotten Days… is an engrossing album, whose rhythmic crinkles and joyous noise are shafts of light on its dark, detailed heart. A great offering from Nils Quak and Nomadic Kids Republic, which should be paired perfectly by another in a month. Can’t wait. – Recommended!
Available through Stashed Goods
- John Boursnell for Fluid Radio