Nelson Of The East - Kybele (Tartelet Records, 2020)
The unrelenting forces of the mind fuse with the ethereal bounds of sonics to craft a beautiful record of pure bliss and endless opportunity.
The kinds of immersion that we are offered within a record depends very much on how the music contained within wishes to express itself. For a long time now, electronica has very much displayed its power in allowing us to craft imagined vivid worlds and scenery just from the tones, textures and patterns coming through into our ears, our minds reacting in a manner that connects the dots to places and emotions we may or may not have experienced. Its this relationship that very much draws people to certain genres within the umbrella term, with some exercising a right to the power of the dance, whereas others take more of a deeper approach - the what becomes the why, the how becomes the where. Some musicians have made a career out of this kind of relationship, with their bond to evoking imagery and places becoming a cornerstone of their sound, the very driver of their production values. For others, a record that shifts into this more visual method of relaying a message comes as a personal reflection of the world around them, a time to reminisce about a favourite memory, holiday, or place, and the feeling then resonates within us. In both instances, we begin to see little pieces form together to craft a visual and musical experience that unravels very much like a journey we might take ourselves, except now we have an accompaniment to that meander back through time or to a place we haven't visited before. Its the bridges between the unknown and the familiar that begin to merge, our emotional and visceral responses to the music start to run off in different directions, which range between doors through to the tangible and to the imagined. For artists who dwell within this mindset as a exercise in expressing their core ideals, then you can go on multiple journeys through the realms of the possible and the near impossible, your mind locked into what ever response you conjure up at the start of proceedings. Or for those who touch on these ideals for the first time, its kind of like a new chapter opening up in their musical ambitions - the abilities have been demonstrated, but now the music moves into the enveloping, open ended ness that we associate with the titans of this kind of mood. Its a testament to the producers who turn their view to this kind of visual narrative through musical approach, where we see a new style of storytelling emerge from their concepts, and for some, it comes easier than others. It feels like a dynamic that always existed within their music, and when the time arrives for this side to insert itself into the sounds, we are all for it.
In terms of this movement into the ways in which music transports us to places we only had passing thoughts of before, then Nelson of the East is really helping us reach for the stars. His past efforts, via the form of two superbly crafted EPs, already demonstrate a knack for the craft of narrative building through keys, drums and overall, atmosphere. The combination of soft enveloping softs cascade through his music, the tenderness that exudes comforts us on all manner of levels, its delicate graceful flow easing us through a wide range of emotional spectrums. At times groovy as hell, at other moments sombre and reflective, and occasionally out there, its the kind of music you associate with those producers who bring something new to the table with their calculated blend, the vitality spewing forth into the corners of the world. Aside from his brilliant musical vision, its the technical side of things that are as equally impressive, and allow for the flow between plains and scenes to flow perfectly and uninterrupted. Perhaps the most important component, perhaps, is that you feel when the track start it has the opportunity to traverse in so many directions, and that therein lies the excitement that we all desire when we listen to music. Its the anticipation of hearing the introductory lines that tantalise the senses before sweeping us off our feet into a new horizon, the experience from before not quite the same as the current one, but the thread at the heart of it all weaves it together so intuitively. All this becomes so evident on his debut EP, the utterly brilliant 'Night Frames' release that surfaced back in 2018. A record that flips between alternative tempos and moods with ease, guided by the hand of a producer capable of some seriously special things indeed. Moving between bountiful deep house, through jazzy infused meanders via the expansive depths of spacey bass lines, its a real triumph, a real statement of intent. Perhaps not content on just showcasing one train of thought, he followed this effort up with something a little bit more club orientated, with the 'Phase Altering Lines' record that came through last year. Over two cuts, Nelson crafts two mega infectious experiences that channel through our bodies and into the essence of being, with all manner of synth led perfection abounding from every corner. Needless to say, many a listener was immediately bound to the music and the world it inhibited, the power of the tunes compelling many to seek refuge amongst the comfort and the joy of the unexpected. We couldn't recommend checking out these two records enough, both are future classics.
So it feels right that we arrive at N.O.T.E's debut long play, entitled 'Kybele', which is being released via the always amazing Tartelet Records. Whilst we saw the roots starting to flourish within his earlier records, Nelson really drives home the expanse on this one, as the subspaces, sonicscapes and landscapes unravel in front of us only to build up inside our imaginations. The permeation of keys interwoven with drums and pads continually build up the concept of never ending ness, with the creativeness of the music flowing through us, inspiring us, taking us to places far and wide. We loose ourselves in the music as much as we like, as the elements within allow us to take whatever path we please on this utterly gorgeous epic. So come and escape with us, as we take a trip through to the outer reaches of possibility.
Up first comes the aptly named 'Explorer', and we are on our way. The track begins with the repeating loop of fast paced keys out towards the left hand side of the horizon, which provides a thread for which all the elements that follow to feed off of it. Within its boundary, a beautifully considered bass line swims through the tranquility, and then the cosmic line that shines through the clouds above. Its tone is constructed perfectly, as it rises and rises with the swells that persist underneath, inviting along deep pads to climb to the heavens with it. Its a gorgeous build, and is perhaps a precursor to all the magic that is about to present itself to us on this album. 'Draw Me' follows next, and we are greeted with the deep set drums, filtered through to create a dense percussive wall. As the structure moves through a few bars, we are joined by some chime like percussive elements that weave and dip on top of proceedings, their melody adding so much to all the goodness that seeps from beneath. The drums move out for a minute, and this breakdown sees all kinds of magic hypnotic grooves start to emerge, and as the beat swings back in we are truly transfixed. The amazing part here is the subtle build up of melody, with the drums and keys so beautifully joined together, our imagination encased in a whirlwind of expanse and sonics. As the track moves through a bit more, we move into the melodic climax we had been lead too, with the textured pads and keys moving into the picture with such ease, the flow of this track is off the chain. A track with such vitality, constantly capturing our engagement with its intuitive flow through proceedings, our journey from the beginning to end is carried by a composition that knows no bounds or limits. Fucking amazing. Up next comes 'Culto', and we begin in similar surroundings to the previous cut. Nelson takes the time to craft a very interesting intro indeed, with the by now signature blend of rhythmic melodic stabs and deep set drums playing their part to perfection. The tune then swings into a full on bass led affair, with the sequence moving and grooving over the drums so well, providing us with that additional kick of energy. The melodic features move in and around the background, with the swelling chord flitering through the clouds when needed to move the flow onwards, and this sets the scene for the gorgeous high line key solo to chime into view. Floating above before raining down on us like a shower of bliss, its yet another feature in this landscape that tantalises us, its beauty something we immediately head towards. Like a flash, it leaves our view, as we begin again to look at the world around us once more. There's still time for one more build up, a shift through the gears, and we wonder if we have left our surroundings yet for pastures new. 'Burning Palm (Saudade Edit)' follows next, and is another reimagining of one of the cuts off his 2019 EP. The melodic presence is very evident from the off, with the drums taking a back seat and the waterfall like key line arpeggio sequence takes centre stage. Backing chords and little rhythmic keys move in and out of view, which all adds into this beautiful unravelling sequence that moves in front of us. The dynamics on display in this track are ridiculous, with the drums moving up a gear to aid in the power of the key work, with a sublime key line just adding further to the mystique of it all. The vocal sample that resonates within the track only aids in the tracks brilliance, as we immerse ourselves in all the lucid and hazy contents. Yes.
'Phones' comes next, and is the first short break we have from all the expanse. A series of key sequences double up, crafting a sound that is beautiful yet bewildering at the same time, as we wish to reach out and touch and taste it. The chords that move into our line of sight craft a dense bedrock that only adds to the intrigue, the expanse becomes more so as the little objects that fill the plain we reside on collide within this brief but ambitious greeting. Twinkling, glowing, shining, its one more attraction, one more landmark, that can be found within this compelling world. Up next comes 'Phase Lines', and the tone moves up a notch into a rich Beaty environment. The feel is upbeat, the groove moves up and down with ease, with the little key line at the end of each bar keeping us on our toes. The gentle pads move into the background, which are then joined with Chicago House esq key swings that just add enormously to proceedings, but its all overtaken by the brilliant bass line that moves right though the heart of the track. The bass becomes the thread of it all, inviting new elements to move into the tune, with a series of progressions moving the track forward on its journey to groove perfection. Whilst not as expansive as some of the previous efforts, the track does a lot to evoke the interactions that we experience on a daily basis, our movements through cities and places constantly permeated with activity and action. If the previous cuts were to do with the limitless feel of natural systems, this track channels us into the ever changing energies of urban life, and how it channels that pulse so wonderfully. A tune that bounces and vibes with a flow and swing of epic proportions, its a track that resonates through time and space. Up next comes 'Yahuda', and we start off in more low key surroundings. The dynamics of the beats and the chords is, of course, pulled off superbly, as it crafts a base for which the song can begin to unwind itself from. The chords lie deep in the backdrop, the drums catering for numerous plains of sound, as the swirling arpeggio line that began in the deeps has now wormed its way into the foreground of proceedings, as the elements all move into the first climax. The sudden cut out of all the elements then dives into the next sequence, as the grace levels never cease to amaze as we continue to move up and down between emotive states. The landscape presented here feels like a coastline, where the waves and swells recede then wash over us, the crashing of the water crafting a mesmerising experience unlike no other, its flow between structures one of fluidity and beauty. This is a serious, serious track.
Up next comes 'On Ay', and we start off with the all consuming bass line filling up the screen. This is gradually joined by cymbals and light percussive elements, before that beat we all knew was coming swings in, and good lord is it a groover. With a real sense of intent and pulse, this beat moves along perfectly with the deep bass keys, providing another wonderful dynamic that we can really get our teeth into. The melodic side gets fleshed out with the high line key sequence that moves around on top with ease, with the fluid key line moving between the bass and chords with excitement and passion. Its a atmosphere like no other, with a real craft applied to how all the various elements interplay with one another, giving over a sense of technical excellence that has collided with a vision of sound. To wrap things up, we have 'Zeta', and the dub is the first thing to strike within this one. Commencing in a suitable expansive environment, elements that ring true and hit hard blend together in this hazy meander through the outer reaches of space and time, our imaginations allowed to run wild through a sea of beauty and wonder. As the track moves forward, it begins to ramp up its pursuit of hypnotism, with rippling keys and deep set pulse bass hits creating a song that feels high energy but slowed at the same time, its dynamic again becoming the key element of transporting us to somewhere else. Like a dream we had but we can't describe, its a fitting ender to a record of constant genius, beautiful flows, dynamism that drips from every corner, and a series of visual narratives that you could listen to time and again, and perhaps get different feels from each one.
Well now, THIS is a record. From the very off, we start dipping our toe into something which feels just right, a tone that begins in the cosmos before heading back down to earth, but always treads the fine line between what we know and what we can imagine. A lot of this comes from the phenomenal dynamics that Nelson is able to curate and inject into his music, a constant element that makes each track have a unique sense of purpose and context, feeding into a different facet of a place or moment in time. We feel a connection in what we hear, we begin to form images in our head, but just as we begin to immerse ourselves in normality, Nelson does his best to transport us into the skys and see a different kind of normal. Our journey takes us far and wide on this album, through much of the real and the imagined, and therein lies its greatest asset - there is always, always, something more to this record. From top to bottom, its an album that is on its way to being considered a modern day masterpiece. We have half of 2020 left to go, but this LP will be up there with the very best. If not as the best. Truly remarkable, in every sense of the word.
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