Aaron Turner and Daniel Menche, two prominent figures of experimental music, meet again after the Mamiffer collaboration with Menche back in 2015. Both have been active recently, with Turner participating in the Thalassa project releasing Bonds of Prosperity with William Fowler Collins, while Menche released his long, immersive Sleeper record earlier this year.
With NOX the duo presents a 31-minute long-form collaboration. Anyone familiar with the two artists should have a pretty good idea of what to expect here. Sonic exploration is performed to no end, through the use of field recordings, heavy guitars and amp feedback coupled with electronic manipulation in crafting an experience that is deeply meditative and transcendental.
NOX contains a strong sense of peace and serenity, which is a direct result of the meditative perspective Menche and Turner adopt. The opening moments of the track with the vocals appearing from afar displaying that mentality, while the elusive nature of the work, especially around the 21 minute mark, pinpoints to the very centre of the introspective state. However, the tone does not always retain its serene profile, with the duo shifting towards darker and more obscure areas, constructing minimal and desolate soundscapes.
It is the drones that aid in these transitions, with the feedback spawning a plethora of evolving sounds, ranging from sharp, whistling hows to deep, verging on the subsonic, drops. The luminance in which this trip started off takes on a creepy and perverse perspective, becoming infused with a dark and slightly twisted mentality. It even leans towards epic interpretations, with the duo building up tremendous sonic worlds that collide in the distance.
It is a combination of attributes that makes NOX such a captivating and engaging listen. Field recordings provide a degree of depth to the scenery, lending a touch of realism, adding texture and substance to the work, as does the simplistic percussion. Noise injections introduced on the subtle drones similarly give the work more weight and a well-defined frame, unchaining it from its ethereal side and forcing it into material form. The inclusion of the vocals, in their sparse implementation, further ties everything together, forcing drones and noise to co-exist and retain their serene element, reaffirming the meditative quality of NOX.
Turner and Menche work well together, and NOX is no different. In the single track of this album, they are able to mould an experimental trip of insightful exploration, using their arsenal of drones, noise, vocal chants, feedback and sonic craftsmanship.
8.0 / 10
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