Sonnborner by Nadja


Sonnborner (Broken Spine Productions/Daymare Recordings; LP/CD/DL)

Released on September 7th it’s the latest from German/Canadian duo Nadja (Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff) on the Broken Spine Productions imprint. They rally classically bent players Julia Kent, Agathe Max and Simon Goff to join them for the wild sonic ride that is Sonnborner. As the title track (Sonnborner/Aten) kicks off its a foggy ambient wonderland, paced gradually, forming in small steps and strums.

The knowledge that this half-hour long work is up front is actually quite comforting given its patina, which ranges from pastel to foaming white. A silky male voice shimmers into the mix obliquely  cast within intricately added chords. Though the voice itself is different, it has some similar qualities to Tor Lundvall’s recent release, except when the aching twist of guitar and drum are added to the mix, suddenly making for a rocking shoegazer that goes into an eclectic, electric buzzsaw state. This has more in common with, say, SUNN O))) and Whitehouse than anything either ambient or rock n’ roll, save for a nod to The Jesus & Mary Chain.


The sonic wall stays up and builds until just after the eighteen minute mark when the obliterating sonic revelry mingles with a slithering cello line that reshapes the climax of aural ecstasy into a meandering, emotional shimmer. The final six minutes offer an elongated symphonic sprint that’s quite lovely. This is a very physical about-face. After the barrage of guitars, pitch and din the body is now awkwardly held in a bit of stasis as reflexes only begin to calm down. It does beg: Q: Has Nadja gone full-tilt death metal? A: I think not. They simply are painting their voice in a new light here (ala Edvard Munch).

From the top of In The Shadow Of The Wing Of The Thing Too Big To Be Seen you’ll think you are listening to The Land of Rape and Honey-era Ministry, it crushes everything in sight with a visceral swirl of heavy drums n’ wires. If ever the phrase “it’s lit” were to be used, this is the perfect opportunity, literally it sounds like The Plasmatics on fire, three-alarm! And while that may sound like the doom acid industrial punk that it is, it goes a step further by installing a quasi-floating effect that brings out understated harmonies on the low end while the raucous carries on. Created by a vocal echo treatment where grunts are turned into steam and raw energy blares from loaded strings. In this world whammy bar meets processed electronics meets attitude.


I’ve not heard anything as voracious since I saw Angel (Ilpo Väisänen x Schneider™) perform live. And without even noticing three very short tracks have passed as one – Sunwell, Stillborn (A Fragment) and now the concluding Sunborn (Coda) with its heavy flow of careening guitars, like a waterfall at full throttle alongside some truly awesome percussion – and those symbols are a perfect foil. The voluptuous opus slowly comes down with a smoky disappearing act as quietly as its entrance, but the listener is left completely buzzed by an all-encompassing sense of recall. This one definitely busts any stereotypes about experimental music and its ability to not only rock, but to act as headcleaner for modern minds.


PS: Check out additional work by the man behind the gorgeous coverart.

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