Album Review

Nyx by Zer0 れい

Written by: listencorp

A low level buzz heralds the start of NYX. A little glimpse of the general hue of warm feedback that follows pretty much throughout the release. There’s a sound like some unfathomably large freight train peeling out of a gnarled, gothic station; but as the atmosphere settles a similar sound emerges at a different pitch, clarifying that what we hear is a melodic sequence rather than a sound effect. The hybridization of fizzling static and muffled angelic pads was the cause of such a shocking and intense beginning, but the two aspects separate fairly swiftly. What proceeds from this point sounds something like footage from the rapture spewing from an old television set. Instead of sounding grand and palpable, the pad strings leak out of an unstable and non-grandiose set of speakers. It is almost like awakening from a dream, there was a fleeting moment that felt as though we were experiencing this strange celestial event first-hand. However as we come to understand what is being presented, we realize it claws over toward us from a tired old screen.

As if the old hardware has been on too long and found a way to connect with the spiritual plane. Needle-like euphoria pierces through the unpredictable waves of fuzz, at points the melodies even seem to push through like a hand of pure light desperately trying to permeate its shoddy, fizzling encasement. Throughout this, Zer0れい remains unafraid of leaving the listener in moments of silence. For some artists, music of this style would cause a nerve-racking pressure, where it might feel as thought the artist must always be presenting the atmosphere explicitly. This would cause an overexposure to the fascinating atmosphere. But with Zer0れい there are gaps peppered about, moments without the guiding light of the euphoric ambience, and also where the feedback ceases to spit out static as well. In these brief periods of silence, it almost feels as though your soul is recuperating after being set upon by a strange and entrancing experience.

These fleeting respites end with a reiteration of the desolate and decrepit aura that controls NYX. There is also something incredibly unique about the melodies Zer0れい utilizes. They are unrelenting tendrils that sneak past the grainy fugue; long drawling laments. When it feels as though a melodic episode has concluded, the artist finds another combination of notes to keep the sorrowful performance going. In this way the track limps at points, with breaks in feedback and melodic narrative. This serves to amplify the fragmented and heady nature of the music as a whole. At certain stages, it almost sounds like there are voices meshed into the slow-attack notes. Noises like bells can also be heard throughout, before the onslaught of melody is enveloped in waves of heavy distortion. Toward the end, a swirling pool of the euphoric ambience begins to build. The lashes of harsh feedback continue, but every time they hit they disappear, more swiftly than before, into the burgeoning sea of beautiful noise. The opening side to Zer0れい‘s NYX is truly haunting. The atmosphere submerges everything from the very start, everything happens through this heady, violent sludge. But even in such torrid audio conditions, Zer0れい sneaks in moments of pure beauty.

The narrative takes a darker turn still as we enter the second half. The same large sweeps of metallic viscera appear, but this time do not often relent in any meaningful way. Instead, gargantuan shrouds of noise crash into slowly descending whistles. The falling tones are unsettling, as if the music has buckled from the pressure and now hurtles downward like a faltering aeroplane. The feeling is one of overarching disorientation. At least the first half of NYX had a safe space in its sheepish melancholy. In this second part, the listener is completely on their own amidst screaming tunes and violent walls of muddy, metallic nothingness. Even when the melody gains a little bit more of a footing and certain notes are sent across the listener’s bow, they are completely bested and beaten down by the constant monotony of the void. Low notes begin to coo patiently against the tide, almost choral in their delivery.

At a certain point, a deep bass sound begins to enmesh itself in with the dissonance, allowing for melody to inch its way into focus without being hindered by the relentless din. Here we find a little ballast upon which to try and weather the storm; we hear muffled ghosts of notes pulse through a thick fog. After throbbing feedback, all sounds begin to falter. Only certain crackles and flickers have a volatile feel to them, the rest of what we were hearing seems to have hurtled far away from us now. This is one of the only times it seems we are able to hide away from the atmosphere Zer0れい has created. But it is in no way comforting, it feels as if we are mere yards away from this strange ghostly tower in which the noisy struggle rages on. A heavenly chorus emerges through the grayscale rage of sound, its tune bending and screeching. The conclusion to NYX is not the rapturous recalibration of light and dark that we may have hoped for. Rather the two sounds slowly simmer down and stop, the pause is so sudden that it almost feels as if it could just be another swift intermission before the roaring shrieks back in. It fills the listener with dark wonderings about the sounds, which harbored so much power and rage that they could easily burn on forever past the project’s runtime.

Zer0れい assembles defunct sounds and feedback, pitting them against each other and occasionally fusing them together. This is a fairly basic methodology. But, in NYX the artist instills an incredibly harrowing atmosphere, an incapacitating journey through a volatile and alien landscape viewed through rusted old machinery. In the first part, one might imagine a lone TV set, spewing sick light into a living room and entrancing an unaware subject with visions of angelic beauty. The second part sounds like what would be playing when the police break down the subject’s door a few weeks later, finding the apartment’s contents vaporized and the owner driven to madness by the indescribable dark energy enshrined within what was playing.

Check out the album on Aquablanca 音楽レーベル Feb. 13th: 
https://aquablanca.bandcamp.com/album/nyx