NAAL is the surrealist, drone/rock project of Chicago native Dave Mantel. Characterized by a sonic journey taken between more traditional instrumental post-rock, and the fringe elements of ambient, noise, drone, and field recordings, NAAL is a project that wanders freely between elements of all of those genres, while juxtaposing their individual elements to create a unique sonic palate.
Formed in 2013 with the release of the debut project titled Wilderlands, NAAL has released 4 EP's, with a debut full-length announced for a 2017 release. Each of the past three releases, 2014’s “Compass” and “Chaos Monsters,” and 2015’s “TIME” EP, charted as best-sellers on Bandcamp. Beyond his recordings, NAAL has begun to bring a live show audio/visual experience that focuses on the mellower side of the project. Long, texturally complex soundscapes are complimented by an ambient visual experience aimed at exploring dark, metaphysical and surrealist themes.
A703 is a slow, intricate walk through several years worth of dark, complicated emotional landscapes, compiled together to create a listening experience that will both relax and challenge the listener. The slow drones and complex textures give voice to both a deep sadness, and a deep hope. Of the new album, Mantel says, “There's an idea in Japanese that has captured me- 'mono no aware'- which is an awareness of the impermanence of everything. But, at the same time, not letting that overwhelm or immobilize you. It's a gentle sadness of things. But that idea of simple awareness is not where I want this story to end... That is the concept for the album.”
The first full length album from NAAL, A703’s soundscapes are charged with the weight of their author's own emotional darkness. This album is unlike NAAL's past releases in both the volume of work, and the compositional and instrumental restraint involved in the process. Leaving behind the more traditional post-rock vibe of the project's previous releases, A703 fully embraces the “drone” side of the so called “drone/rock” genre Mantel has coined.
The slow moving chord structures made up of layers of guitar and synthesizer textures, combined with bits of field recordings taken over the course of some of these aforementioned defining emotional moments, create ambient and droning atmospheres that are at once intricately complex and utterly benign. Although these 7 tracks are, for their author, ultimately about mortality and the fleetingness of the temporal, in the depth of the music, there seems to be a glimmer of light. In the end, Mantel says, the interpretation remains up to the listener, “That's the beautiful thing about making the kind of music I make. I can write something out of the deepest feelings of sadness and pain, and someone can listen to those same lines and feel hope in the middle of that. That's really all I want from this project. Yes, there is sadness, there is death. But I have to believe that there is also life.” A703 releases on June 30th, digitally everywhere and physically at NaalMusic.com
On Saturday, May 20, multi-instrumentalist and lauded bass player Erik Kramer released his debut studio endeavor, an EP entitled ‘Missed the Boat.’ The Brooklyn-based musician has an especially eclectic sound, one that employs the talent of a slew of musicians: saxophone, trombone, viola, trumpet, back-up vocalists - they’re all there. An experimental record through and through, ‘Missed the Boat’ is an indie record quite unlike anything else that’s come across my desk in recent months.
The Great Long Distance is an audible recollection of the first 12 months of a long distance relationship, including the highs and lows and moments in between. It is a journal without words, each of the 12 tracks representing each month respectively. Inspired by the format of NIN's "Ghosts I-IV", the album is a sonic tapestry of different moods and themes, with various recurring motifs and the subtle melding of synthesizer and samples; the result something not quite classical, ambient or electronic - rather, an eclectic blend of the three. For fans of Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm and later Ulver