Great New Releases by Nerd Revolt and the Sight Below
Nerd Revolt (m.0 and iLL.F.O.) got their start in Seattle, but moved to San Francisco in 2009. The one show at Re-bar of theirs that I was lucky enough to catch had me stoked to see what they could do on record, and that opportunity finally arises with the Haze of introspection... and sh*t (Innerflight Music; www.innerflight.com). The four-track EP starts with "Insomnia," a lush, ominous slice of glazed, nocturnal techno, all sensuous curves and gleaming surfaces, and brushed with vocalized vowels that induce shivers. "Synthy Fresh" starts with a disorienting, reverbed swirl of spectral voices before a staunch 4/4 beat, a surprisingly effective bass belch, finger snaps, and plinky percussion accents elevate it out of the oubliette. "Working Title" chugs, bleeps, and bulges the low end in attractive ways, like classic Bruno Pronsato when he dwelled in the Emerald City. "Falling into Consciousness" features m.0's distant, Trent Reznor–ian vocals amid a wondrously resonant drone and a scuffed stutter beat that's somewhere between dub and dubstep. Nerd Revolt are the rare gear geeks who know how to infuse sensuality and soul into their highly refined productions. They're going to go far.
Seattle's the Sight Below (aka Rafael Anton Irisarri) already has gone far, touring in Europe and playing Barcelona's Sónar, Montreal's Mutek, and Detroit's Movement festivals. Departing from his usual solo setup, his new album, It All Falls Apart (Ghostly International; www.ghostly.com), features ex-Slowdive drummer Simon Scott on guitar treatments and electronics and Tiny Vipers' Jesy Fortino on vocals.
"Shimmer" begins the disc with a majestic sigh and, yes, shimmer. Its subtle grandeur evokes Biosphere's frosty, watercolored vistas. "Fervent" is a vast murmur and spangle in an ice cave. It's not till track 3, "Through the Gaps in the Land," that beats appear; they'll be recognized by anyone who heard the Sight Below's auspicious 2008 debut full-length, Glider. The piece's swift hooves-on-grass throbs buttress a soaring, solarized drone. "Burn Me Out from the Inside" similarly flows and billows like burnished Gas (Wolfgang Voigt, that is); techno in a perpetual state of understatement, offering no climax, but delivering a surplus of beauty.
The beatific title track approximates the sound of lavender clouds colliding above a holy-minimalist symphony. The cover of Joy Division's stark, charcoal-hued "New Dawn Fades" captures the original's poignant, forlorn quality, aided by Fortino's heartfelt, deadpan vocals. The Sight Below sketches a hazy outline of the tune, turning it into a dazed and contused space ballad. The vinyl-crackle-enhanced "Stagger" slowly unfolds over its 13 minutes into something resembling Brian Eno's most sublime depictions of stasis.
It All Falls Apart is Glider's less mobile but nobler counterpart. It'll be interesting to see where the Sight Below goes from here.