Label: An Out Recordings
This was fairly unexpected. Whereas the debut from verãopop was a fairly dense, ominous piece of work, their latest record, Nouveau Shamanic, is a different beast. Rather than drowning you beneath heavy waves of drone and noise, this new album is fairly spacious. Sure, the drones are still there, but they’re largely the background to what is almost free-form experimental psychedelica that makes me think of the more create stuff by those Japanese artists I so loved in my younger years (Taj Mahal Travellers, and even some of the stuff by Acid Mothers Temple), albeit with an added Kosmiche musik influence due to the drones and synthesizers. It’s a record to sink in to and (try to) relax, to let the drones wash over you. This is experimental music both as art and as escapism.
Opener “I” is the most sparse of the three tracks on the record. Droning synths comprise the background, whilst in the forefront drums and cymbals that never settle in to a rhythm dominate, moving in patterns that seem almost random. It’s unsettling in the way it refuses to sit still, with even the background drone constantly shifting in uncomfortable ways, but yet if the listener sits back and lets the music flow where it will, it all begins to fall in to place. As ominous as it can all be, there’s nothing truly malicious here; it’s more that the music refuses to obey typical rules, and that can make it so uncomfortable. But, taken on its own terms, “I” is an hypnotic, almost cleansing journey.
“II” is, by comparison, much more accessible. A loud organ takes centre stage, enhanced by the background drone, and the drums – previously so restless and impossible to hold down – stick to regular rhythms at points. The track has the feel of something worshipful and undeniably grand, though the sense of darkness never quite leaves – as beautiful as that organ is, there is something hiding behind the curtain, never quite seen, biding its time.
By contrast, “III” brings this duality to the forefront. The opening synth may have something beautiful and awe-inspiring to it, but the heavy bass drones and ominous drums combine to create an atmosphere that is almost sinister and oppressive. Yet, as with “I”, when allowed to run freely over your senses, it has something powerful and cathartic to it, and almost cleansing.
Despite only being 24 minutes long, Nouveau Shamanic feels much longer, such is its emotional and spiritual weight. It is hardly an easy listen, with the band showing a good understanding of how uncomfortable space can be, but there is something undeniably rewarding about it, with a power to take the listener away from their physical environment and in to a totally separate head-space. It’s not one for casual background listening, and must be engaged with on its own terms, but to do so is a very rewarding experience.
Nouveau Shamanic can be downloaded and streamed via Bandcamp.