Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nest "Nest"

Artist: Nest
Album: Nest [EP]
Label: Serein
Release date: 22 March 2007
Genre: Electronic
Style: Modern Classical/Ambient
RIYL: Deaf Center, Stars Of The Lid, Library Tapes

01. Lodge
02. Kyoto
03. Marefjellet
04. Charlotte
05. Cad Goddeu
06. Trans Siberian
Total running time: 27' 37"
"It's been a while since Deaf Center's Neon City EP was released by the Type label, and neither Deaf Center nor Erik Skodvin have released anything that sounds quite like it since. Skodvin has been treading the dark path down which his Svarte Greiner solo project have led him, and even Pale Ravine was a much darker, moodier affair. It was therefore wonderful to accidentally discover Nest, Otto Totland's new six track collaboration with Serein label owner Huw Roberts.

Nest taps into all manner of comfortingly recognisable styles, but the tone remains pensive and uneasy, much like Neon City. Given that both Totland and Roberts are pianists, the piano is a primary source instrument on Nest. There may be a lot of piano-centric releases around at the moment, but Totland and Roberts just do it really, really well. Also like Neon City there is enough variety here to prevent the EP from becoming stale at any point. The whole release is wonderfully fresh in fact, with new traditional instrumentation appearing on each track. It is also unashamedly cinematic and yet classical in its musical forms. This is music that lives and breathes.

"Lodge" comes across almost as a sequel to Deaf Center's own "White Lake." Beautiful, lilting piano phrases appear and repeat as they phase into a backdrop of shimmering and chittering effects, combining with exquisite string drones. "Kyoto" is reminiscent of Air, its Japanese instrumental leanings apparent throughout. More repeating piano keys provide a meter to the plucked harps and dusty percussion and field recordings that hang in the air like mist on a cold spring morning.

"Marefjellet" is a darker affair, bringing to mind Deaf Center's "The Clearing" as it also features a maudlin, piano waltz and ominous, brooding strings that eventually break into a descending piano melody that exudes tragedy. "Charlotte" could almost be mistaken for a Goldmund collaboration, so touching is the leading piano melody. More bright yet delicate, intermittent piano, warm, hazy, retro pads and atmospherics and introspective, rolling melodies join unexpected, scattered ethnic percussive effects. "Cad Goddeu" is one of Nest's finest moments though, and contains undercurrents of quavering repeated string sections that are instantly reminiscent of Biosphere's Debussy-based "Shenzhou" and every bit as atmospheric. These undercurrents are augmented by more delicate piano, plucked harps, sweeping strings, haunting woodwind and windswept atmospherics.

If Nest has one flaw, it is "Trans Siberian." It isn't a weak track in itself - far from it - but its placement as the closing track on the EP doesn't really work. An EP should end with something memorable, but "Trans Siberian" is a meandering, ambient piece that's more about atmosphere than anything and would have fitted in better as a sort of interlude between other tracks on the EP.

Combining the perfect atmospherics of Biosphere and Helios, the introspection and delicacy of Harold Budd and the intimacy of Goldmund to truly tranquil and majestic effect, Nest is an absolute triumph. And best of all, it's free! Download immediately.

Full marks have to go Serein for the care and attention paid to the technical and physical aspects of this digital only release as well. All of the tracks have been released as 320 Kbps mp3 files, which is as good as an mp3 file is ever going to sound in a digital release that is practical to download and copy to physical media. Anything less than 320 Kbps in an mp3 file is simply unacceptable (the fact that many large record labels charge so much for files with an encoding rate of only half this is almost criminal) and Serein have recognised this with the advent of this release. The files sound superb.

Additional to that, Serein have made full artwork available for the release. This appears in low resolution .jpg formats that can be used to display in media players, but they have also provided an excellent .pdf file. This contains double-sided booklet and CD tray artwork with printed dimensions and guides that are a snap to print and cut-up before slipping them into a clear-tray jewel-case. The images have even been given a large amount of bleed to allow for any misalignment of your duplex prints. The result is an exceptionally professional looking package that will satisfy those who don't usually care for the lack of physical product in digital-only releases. This is brilliant stuff and ranks as one of the best artwork packages I have yet seen bundled with a digital release. The only thing missing is artwork for the disc itself, though this can easily be culled from the existing images." [source]



Michał said...

in fact, Trans Siberian is the best track in my humble opinion. I can listen it looped for hole day

Anti-Life said...

Thanks for the release,
quite interesting review, keep the good work;)