To get a label's attention in this age is hard. Especially trying to do so through the traditional email approach. But for Demen, that method worked, and the folks over at Kranky were taken aback by the solo project of Irna Orm. Not much is known about Orm, other than she is behind the solo project Demen, and that she hails from Sweden. All this background adds to this mystique surrounding the project and the release of its debut album, Nektyr.
From the very start of the record, there is one name that will magically appear in your mind: This Mortal Coil. The dark characteristic sound of the 4AD collective has inspired the essence of Demen's sound. The ambient settings, the minimal instrumentations, the glacial pacing and amidst all a brilliant vocal performance are all found within the world of Nektyr. Sorrowful and elegant, Demen sees to carry down the legacy of this ethereal wave of dream pop glory.
But, in order to continue a tradition, one needs to adapt it first. There is no point in rehashing elements, and Orm's capabilities do not allow her to remain static. Despite the existence of a rockier, post-punk side, coupled with a dream pop openness, Demen dwell deeper into the experimental realm. Through minimal and drone-based sceneries, she produces a darker work, narrating a bleaker story. It is more of a song to the gorgon, rather than a song to the siren, if you'd like. The masterful use of reverb maximizes this effect, especially when applied to the sparse instrumentation and vocal delivery, constructing a big space where concepts can thrive.
Even though the music is rich, the instrumentation is not dense. Synths move in slow progression, producing their ethereal waves without bubbling away. This “less is more” overarching theme is also found in the stunning vocal delivery, where Orm reveals just how thought out and well formed her ideas and arrangements are. At times appearing at the center of the track, stealing the spotlight with their grand performance, the vocals become the focal point. However, Demen also uses this effect sparingly, not wanting to overwhelm the listener only through the vocal delivery. This maneuver makes the vocals more alluring when they appear, but it also lets the tracks breathe on their own. That is the most important aspect of the record, that the music itself can stand completely on its own even without the vocals present, retain their atmosphere and interest.
In Greek mythology, nectar was the drink of the gods, which when consumed by mortals would gift long life or immortality. It marked the passage from an earthly state to a heavenly plane, and that is a very fitting title for Demen's debut.
8.1 / 10
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