Dark days and cold nights; Nadja’s Dagdrøm is a fitting soundtrack for Autumn. Fans of Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff’s unique strain of drone-tinged doom will find this work to be among the finest in their labyrinthine discography measuring over thirty splits, EP’s, and full lengths since 2003. This breadth of work is simultaneously exasperating and exhilarating; while many of their releases are near perfect exercises in mood and restraint, there are many that, to listeners unacquainted with Nadja, will leave them scratching their head.
Moody and melancholic, Nadja have perfected a sound that lies somewhere between bleak shoegaze and grandiose doom metal. Dagdrøm is only four tracks long, but the movements within the songs, all but one weighing in at over 10 minutes, create an enthralling atmosphere. This is an oceanic record, meant to be taken in end to end. Of note is Mac McNeilly’s (of The Jesus Lizard) drumming. Propulsive and measured, it is a great alternative to programmed drums, giving the entire record a level of life that is sometimes absent in Nadja’s sound.
Opener “One Sense Alone” sets the stage for what’s to come. Aidan’s plaintive, decidedly un-metal vocals contrast with the massive riff driving the song. McNeilly’s drumming is not particularly mind-blowing, but it absolutely keeps your head nodding. A melodic outro is a welcome respite from the brutality of the driving riff. When you listen to this album, try and notice how the length of the songs creeps up on you; what you think is five ends up turning to be nearly fifteen. It’s a testament to Baker and Buckareff’s songwriting ability that they are able to do so much with so little. The second track, “Falling Out of Your Head” opens with a catchy plucked riff that slowly builds while Baker’s near spoken-word like vocals weave below. At the 3:30 mark massive feedback joins the riff, completely changing the character of the song without changing it’s structure; it’s a memorable moment that then morphs into a classic doom riff, electronics warbling in the background. The rise and fall of this song evokes Oceanic-era Isis; which to me, is one of the highest complements one can give.
The title track is the heaviest here. Throughout a massive, feedback-laden riff crashes up and down over McNeilly’s drumming until the whole thing is exhausted, leaving a unintelligible Baker singing over a subdued acoustic line. Closing out with “Space, Time, and Absence” McNeilly’s drumming sets the mood. A ferocious, tribal beat competing with a massive wall of sound that builds to near earsplitting levels. Baker’s vocals are tracked in the deepest reaches of the mix, ethereal and shoegazey as ever. The chorus makes this song, every member crashing into one another then devolving into controlled chaos, only to come together again with a new drum-line and riff. As an album closer, it’s an incredible tease of what’s to come from Nadja. Dagdrøm is an exhausting, rewarding journey. As the days grow shorter and the air gets colder, Dagdrøm embodies the fatal glory of the fall.
Dagdrøm is available for preorder from Broken Spine Productions and will be shipping towards the end of October.