Haq – Nocturnals (Bearsuit Records)
DL Now, LP, CD end go the month
Released on the independent Scotish label Bearsuit Records, Nocturnals is one of those rare albums that mixes extreme experimentation with pop beauty and actually works.
Haq is a collaboration between Tokyo based duo, N-qia: Nozomi (vocal) & Takma (keyboards & programming) and Edinburgh based musician, Harold Nono (guitars, keyboards & programming). These cross-culture references feed into every fibre of this album. Think My Bloody Valentine, Fuck Buttons, with a dose of Team Brick thrown in and you can get a little bit of an idea of where this album sits.
All the way through Nocturnals, Nozomis’ vocals are the anchor that holds the whole thing together. Thoroughly beautiful as it glides through tracks such as Zuyder and Retrospect, the voice is the central focus for a listener to hold on through as Takma and Nono go off into whatever direction they fancy (this can change within seconds on each individual tracks).
The album is full of unexpected twists and turns and is heavily layered, but in the end, is does have a very pastoral/folk music feel. This is folk music like the Richard D James album is folk, and you’d love to imagine Syd Barrett making this kind of music.
One of the many highlights of the album is the track Sleeper. Underneath the obligatory gorgeous vocal lies a pure Hyperdub rhythm, which if listened to closely enough, resembles the early days of Dubstep. I won’t tell you what happens fifty odd seconds in as it really is a remarkable moment in an album full of them.
However, albums like this do not warrant a track by track review as the whole thing is a complete piece. It washes over you (if you want it to), it disturbs you, it excites
you, it disobeys you. On the aforementioned Retrospect there is even a sample of a child talking and singing whilst playing in the bath which on one hand is pure beauty and on the other incredibly unsettling in a Hammer Horror sense
A gorgeous album, and one whose timing could not be better. This is a perfect spring record. Some sun, some rain, some flowering, some cold spells.
A must listen.
All words by Simon Tucker. Find more by Simon Tucker on Louder Than War.