Æ: Aglet Eaters

Nightmare Air – High In The Lasers

Posted in Album, Review by R on March 27, 2013


So I just wrote this review, right, where I bemoaned the fact that my elitist status was at stake since the music I listened to (throbby droney noisy pneumatic drilly) was more accessible than I had anticipated. Nobody wants the music they like to be universally appealing – if everyone digs what you’re into, how can you be all snobby about it, and if you can’t be snobby about music, then what’s the point of living.

Turns out, I can’t expect elitism with High In The Lasers either. Nightmare Air, feat. Dave Dupuis of Film School (you remember them – they had that superb album, Hideout) is a trio led by a duo (hey man, I’m just reading the onesheet here), and if you thought Film School were easy on the ears, prepare for a whole new level of almost-pop with Nightmare Air.

Don’t immediately distance yourself from this album because I used the P-word. Their video for ‘Icy Daggers’ has Brian Aubert cameo-ing, which should be all you need to understand what kind of ‘pop’ we’re talking about here.

Cameos aside, High in the Lasers is all kinds of ridiculous in the repeat-factor stakes – at least up until the fourth track. ‘Escape’, the opener, makes it abundantly clear that it’s an album all about the production. On last.fm they’re proudly tagged ‘under 2000 listeners’ (542 at last count) (this is a TAG?), but the sound on this album is no small-label-local-band production – it’s sonic crystal.

One again, I turn to the onesheet:

“Mixed by Dave Schiffman (Nine Inch Nails, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Mars Volta, Dead Meadow) with mastering by Howie Weinberg (Nirvana, Sonic Youth, The White Stripes),”

Go figure.

‘Escape’ and ‘Icy Daggers’, already given a massive boost on account of the stellar mixing, ensure their own moreishness by using that clever device – contrast. Floaty female coos interrupted and aided by crude male yelps (not as unappetising as that sounds). Noise-soaked walls etched with perfectly defined riffs and percussion. And your standard loud-soft: delicate intros, outros and verses offset by crumpled, chaotic instrumentation in the chorus.

From the first track to the fourth, High in the Lasers rises steadily, peaking at ‘Sweet Messy Riff’, a track which , in addition to all the above, possesses the most frustrating of qualities – a slippery hook. Unable to hum it back to yourself to satiate a craving, you find yourself putting the track – just the track – on repeat till your neurons are satisfied/self-destruct.

What happens after track 4? No one knows why, but the curve that had already hit its peak and plateaued right at the outset starts to turn downwards. ‘Sun Behind The Rocks’ is peppered with a completely unnecessary 8-bitty buzz through the track which climaxes in an incomprehensible two minutes of beeps, vibrations and thumps. ‘Eyes’, which follows, is a redeemer, as anything would be, but it’s not nearly of the same calibre as the first four tracks. I’m also going to tactfully avoid saying anything about ‘Wolf in the Wood’, apart from ‘Where have the producers/mixers gone?’.

So don’t be alarmed if you start losing focus midway. Go back a couple of tracks, get your momentum back and plough on. Alternatively, take a break, let the phantoms of what you just heard melt away, and start over from ‘Brightest Diamond’.

And hey, since I already brought it up, Hideout is as yummy today as it was the first time you heard it. Pay it a visit again, if you can spare the time.

One Response

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  1. Jim said, on March 28, 2013 at 2:08 am

    When other people start liking the type of music I’m liking, I figure there are two possibilities. The first one is that everyone has FINALLY realized what good music is, and they have righteously embraced it. The second one is that I have unknowingly been converted to the dark side, and I now love crap. It is the second one that I fear the most. I know what you’re saying, though. There is something to be said for having a special something of which you are aware, but most others are not. Maybe there’s still something to be said, though, for being among the first to discover a band, before they were embraced by the masses? If so, take heart in that, Radhika, because I feel this band IS about to become HUGE — even more popular than they already may be to some extent. They have all the right elements; the sound, the style, the connections. They also have some talent, and loathe as we may be to admit it, given that we are among the communal masses in doing so at this point — they’re not bad. Not bad at all.

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