Nadja - Dagdrøm
It has been two long years since Berlin-based Canadian drone couple Nadja released a new album, a span all the more remarkable given the flurry of releases in the preceding years (no one has ever managed an accurate total). So we are all rather excited to hear what has resulted from the extended break from the studio, and what fresh delights Dagdrøm might have in store for all those whose drug of choice is The Drone.
Joining Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff on Dagdrøm is The Jesus Lizard drummer Mac McNeilly, the first time the band have had full live drums on a record (2009's Desire In Uneasiness featured sampled and looped drums), and the result lends the record a more organic feel. Tied with the more obvious elements of songwriting exhibited makes this easily Nadja's most accessible record, a startling combination of catchy passages married with that classic, remorseless drone that they have made their own.
Every Nadja record has managed to create its own identity, connected to those around it but different enough to stand on merit alone. Dagdrøm picks up where they left off with the pop glitter of covers album When I See The Sun Always Shines On TV, a lighter and more airy tone in comparison to a lot of the darker material they are more famed for. A dreamlike walk rather than a crawl through an oppressive mire, if you will.
The sparse opening of 'One Sense Alone' soon erupts into a thumping wall of sound, punctuated by Aidan's ethereal vocals drifting across the vast scene. The guitars follow the drums more closely, not yet swelling to the beatless swathes of reverb that has often been the hallmark of past efforts. Changing pace more often than I can ever remember, the influence of My Bloody Valentine and Swans comes to the fore far more than previously, the comparative cleanliness of the sound unearthing previously unheard melodiousness.
The biggest surprise of all in the first half of the final track 'Space Time & Absence' with the really catchy, pulsating riff that dominates, built around a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure no less – Nadja go mainstream! And yet the construction is more typically Nadja then what has come before, with the greater emphasis on layered guitars and sensory overload. And before long the piece deconstructs into a beautiful, tranquil pool of minimalistic ambience to bring this emotional, wracked journey to a blissful close.
Dagdrøm is once again a different Nadja album; not their best, but hardly their worst either. It will divide people, between those that cheer progression and experimentation, those who may feel they've lost something, and those who simply do not like where they have gone here. But underneath all these debates, Dagdrøm is simply yet another welcome addition to the huge body of work of this most prolific band, of which everyone has their different highlights.