Album Reviews

Nadja: Luminous Rot – “something truly worthy of the present”

Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff mark a fitting return as Nadja.

The prolific Nadja, the project of duo, Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff, return with their latest sonic exploration, Luminous Rot.

Baker has always been a proficient noise chameleon, collaborating in the world of experimentation, not limited to esoteric labels such as Room40 and genre-bending artists such as Clara Engel and more recently, Ekin Fil

Alongside Buckareff, with Luminous Rot, Nadja continues to extract hazardous sonic substances from those contaminated dark wells. It could be argued that Nadja‘s tourism of sound has birthed a plethora of genres and sub-genres. Were terms like ‘metalgaze’ and ‘dream-sludge’ even a thing before Nadja?

I think not…

After careful consultation with Southern Lord‘s Greg Anderson (also of Sunn O)))), Baker and Buckareff chose David Pajo to mix Luminous Rot. Some may find this a strange creative matrimony, however it’s anything but.

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Pajo has always been a metal-head at heart and alongside his escapades in some of the most artistically challenging indie music over the last three decades, on Luminous Rot the Slint guitarist’s embellishments and ability to stitch together so many elements from behind the soundboards adds a new emotional weight to these songs.

Luminous Rot was recorded between Nadja‘s home studio, Broken Spine Studios, and the duo’s live rehearsal studio, both in Berlin (Baker‘s and Buckareff‘s home of the last decade having moved there from Toronto).

The metal cogs grind viciously on the title track – a rumbling low-end industrial clamour where the aggression of Godflesh‘s Streetcleaner-era collides with ’80s darkwave.

Nadja - Luminous Rot

While the title track swelters in Nadja‘s brooding soundscapes, with Cuts On Your Hands, Baker and Buckareff take things to a whole new level.

Synth-heavy, Cuts On Your Hands is an ambient, slowcore behemoth awash with a hypnotic heaviness that fellow Canadians Big Brave have recently mastered. Here, though, Nadja create one of their most defining compositions yet – emotionally-charged channels of sound, layered with sonic waves that wash over you until the hammer drops.

It’s equally pulverising and beautiful and in Nadja’s quest, they have offset darkness with grandeur perfectly here.

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The cold discarded elements of darkwave return with Fruiting Bodies. A song that sounds like a dismantled version of Bauhaus thanks to Nadja reaching for the most grotesque aspects of shoegaze and post-punk.

And this finds us trying to escape the furnace during the closing track, Dark Inclusions. A pulsating finale, with dark-tunnel beats and searing, needle-shifting flange that causes that very furnace to explode. It’s Nadja pushing things to the limit in a similar fashion to The Body‘s I’ve Seen All I Need to See. Naturally, this is where the best results in art are found.

You never know what you’re going to get with a Nadja record and this is what makes the project so special. With Luminous Rot, once again Nadja have reached for remnants of the past and created something truly worthy of the present.

Luminous Rot is out tomorrow via Southern Lord Records. Pre-Order from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

13 replies on “Nadja: Luminous Rot – “something truly worthy of the present””

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