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I Hear Sparks: Pyramids with Nadja – S/T

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In putting together their split record, Toronto’s drone/shoegaze act Nadja and Denton’s noise/post-rock Pyramids have constructed a beautifully oblique, lingering piece of work that proves both challenging and absolutely pleasing.
Collaborations like this can be tricky to orchestrate, but the melding of styles here is marvellous and there’s plenty of beautiful noise to be heard across these four tracks.

Along with all members of both Nadja and Pyramids, the split record features a horde of additional players. Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil) lends his bass to a pair of tracks, Albin Julius (Der Blutharsch) performs vocals on the fourth number, and Mineral’s Chris Simpson adds his own vocals on the second track.

Produced by James Plotkin (Khanate, Phantomsmasher), the Pyramids/Nadja split makes great use of the concepts of resonance and space. This isn’t a record that features players obsessed with piling as much noise as possible into the clear spaces; it is, instead, an extremely careful experiment with the subtleties and abruptness of sound and volume.

The balance between bands is apparent right from the monumental drone of “Into the Silent Waves.” With dark bass tones and a spooky, ethereal atmosphere, the piece feels like observing a massive creature moving across the tundra. It is deliberate and there’s an underlying current of immensity that moves things to the song’s supple plunge.

Shifts in space and time govern the lovely “Another War.” Simpson’s vocals take over suddenly after about four minutes of spacious tone, with impulsive blasts of percussion adding precariousness and sharpness to the layers.

The pressure builds on the third and fourth cuts, with the steep drone and wraithlike wailing of the “Sound of Ice and Grass” leading organically in to the unrelenting, triumphant “An Angel Was Heard To Cry Over the City of Rome.”

A musical expedition that builds on each note eloquently and enthusiastically, the collaboration between the Pyramids and Nadja is terrific stuff. Constructed on the concept of sound and distance, it is a meaningful experiment that organically expands and contracts with beauty, eloquence, aggression, and scale.

About Jordan Richardson