Nadja - Excision
For all but the most dedicated, the prospect of over two and a half hours of relentless Nadja - with their supermassive drones, crawling along at an almost imperceptible speed, the lower frequencies obliterating all prospects of a working brain - is a daunting thought. Excision compiles just eight tracks, all in the region of twenty minutes apiece, lifted from various split and vinyl releases and as such serves as a fine example of how diverse this superficially monotonous drone duo can be.
To describe Nadja's music would not excite all but the most masochistic music fan – long, drawn out riffs with as few notes as possible, distorted guitars left to ring for an age and nary a sign of a tune in sight. But what they do brilliantly is create mesmeric, meditational pieces of music (in the truest definition of the word) that defy normal conventions and break it down to the raw building blocks of emotion, expression and the art therein. This may all sound a bit too snobby and existential hyperbole, but like all good music, this does actually have feeling.
Whether it is the bludgeoning maelstrom of 'Jornada del Muerto' as it goes beyond the extreme ends of metal and takes it to the nth degree, or the blissful, complex loops of 'Spahn' that enters some sort of dark, twisted dreamland, Excision is an album that draws the listener in and slowly envelopes them in a loud, dissonant hug. But the music is not harsh, despite all the elements individually indicating it should be; there is a roundedness to the entire production that creates this hypnotic daze and relaxes the mind.
For most it is the inclusion of the two alternative versions of 'Autosomal' from the vinyl release of the fantastic Bodycage, a definite highlight of the Nadja canon, which will be the greatest draw. Less abrasive than the original, both are supreme examples of how the band melds a guitar and bass via the use of effects and loops to create these vast, monstrous beasts. 'Version Two' in particular is an exhibition in craftsmanship as Aidan Baker slowly builds layer upon layer, culminating in a huge crescendo of devastating, cleansing noise.
The final call of 'Clinging To The Edge Of The Sky' sees Nadja at their most sparse, a gentle comedown at the end of this mammoth trip. Floating upon Leah Buckareff's pure rumbling bass, the guitar weaves ethereal magic on the edges of consciousness. Nadja might not be your average band, but Excision is a wonderfully calming experience if you open up to its extreme and unusual charms; the fact that it is a compilation does not detract from it as a whole piece, and in many ways adds a touch of variation that is needed for such a long album, especially for those less accustomed to their ways.