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
Élvio Rodrigues is a composer and producer from Madeira island, now based in Lisbon, Portugal. In spite of being a player of multiple instruments, in the last couple of years, Élvio has been experimenting with piano, field recordings, and ambient soundscapes. The result is embodied in Slowburner’s debut EP - Before I Return To Dust - which was bself-released in digital and CD formats on March 14th 2017.
The EP deals with the realization that time is limited. Most of the time we’re just living life on autopilot and forget our dreams and hopes for the future. We somehow expect for things to fall into place, except things don’t always work out that way. In that sense, ‘Before I Return To Dust’ is a statement - the time to accomplish all those things we’ve always wanted is now. Time’s ticking.
Start where you are with what you have - 03:56
Time waits for no one - 05:03
Never too late to be someone else, somewhere else - 05:34
Please let me be more than this fleck of dust in the air - 07:29
The album was released on March, 3, 2017. Conceptually it deals with the existential issues of human life, the need for a meaning of life and/or the lack of it; and how time and space wraps our own existence. It was inspired by the thoughts of philosophers and writers like Emil Cioran and Charles Bukowski (his famous poem Bluebird is recited on that song) and is a homage to them. Sound-wise this album makes heavy use of drone synths and field-recordings processed with various effects setting the atmosphere; some elements of dark jazz and classical modern piano; post-rock guitars for the lead melodies and harmonies and a sparse use of drums, mostly downtempo. Some said it resembles Angelo Badalamenti and Bohren & der Club of Gore making post-rock.
Orellana is a neo-classical/post-rock collective hailing from Bristol, UK. Their new album “52”, released in late December, brought in the new year with it’s explosive and intricate sound. The project’s music transcends genre definitions in order to focus on a broad, diverse concept that is more emotional than tangible. This particular release is full of rich and diverse arrangements, but it is also a powerful exercise in minimalism, one that showcases the strength of very few notes placed in the right spots. The simplicity of the arrangement is actually one of the strongest aspects of this entire release: there’s a palpable stillness created by the long, drone notes in the background, which almost makes you feel like the world is happening in slow motion. When the chords and notes change, it feels quite monumental due to the beautiful contrast between the stillness of the background textures and the expressive sound of the guitar-based melodies.
Davenport Rex is a music project based in Detroit, Michigan. Their sound is diverse and challenging, yet accessible and appealing. The band’s music stands out as a combination of tasteful progressive rock, with shades of various influences, ranging from alternative to symphonic hard rock, just to mention a few.