Look out now because Nadja’s release schedule is kicking into high gear with the release of Belle Bêtes via the fine folks of Beta-Lactam Ring in a limited edition of five hundred vinyl LPs, and I am pretty sure that some of their more rabid collectors are both begging for more and crying at the amount of material that the duo produces (trust me, I simultaneously wince and smile euphorically when I hear of a new or upcoming release by the group). Belle Bêtes is an intriguing release for Nadja because it gathers four songs from member Aidan Baker’s solo work and re-imagines them as Nadja tracks with the participation of his partner in Nadja, Leah Buckeroff.
From the triumphant fuzz out sounds of “Sand Like Skin” to the swirling atmosphere of “Beautiful Beast” (whose vocal part at just about a minute to go in the song is one of the more impressive vocal performances by Nadja yet) to the almost pop song resemblance of “Green & Cold” to the chill out moments and slow burn of “Wound Culture,” Belle Bêtes is an excellent reminder of how subtle dynamic use can be superbly effective. The vocals arrangements that find their way into the tracks are very clear but still occupy a secondary place or receive the type of treatment that one does with any other instrument. Therefore the vocal arrangements are audible but put fairly deep in the mix so as to not distract from the overall atmosphere that the songs create. “Wound Culture” is a sure fire home run and the class act of the record for me with its little subtle melodies that hide amidst the white noise and reverb veneer creating one of the more accomplished sounding Nadja tracks - at least it is one of the songs that really standout to me.
One of the more impressive elements of Belle Bêtes is the sophisticated simplicity of the record’s packaging; a striking cover image is a sure fire grabber, but the blackness of the cover and color scheme deceivingly makes one thing of some evil inside when in reality there is not. The aspect of Belle Bêtes that interests me is the ability of Nadja to continually re-work their own material to create different visions of their work because it is not an easy proposition to continually give new breath to creations, and songs are no different; the fact that Nadja does just this on this LP makes it all the more special, at least to me.
8.0 / 10
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