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Nadja – Sv

Essence

Nadja - SvOriginally composed for two festivals in Berlin and taking its title from the SI unit of measurement of ionising radiation dosage in human tissue, Sv (or Sievert in full) is both immediately recognisable as Nadja and quite the departure for Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff. While the duo’s love of all things droney and epically skyscraping is present and correct, so too is an incipient percussive trickle which ultimately rushes into a flood of bruising beats of an altogether more harsh kind than that for which they have largely been known in recent times.

One of the performances was essentially a rave held under a motorway ramp, and when the full force of the music kicks in after a lengthy build up of a very Nadja tension, it’s entirely easy to imagine the effect that it might have had on a dancefloor full of revellers (the other show was apparently on an eschatological theme, to which Sv is also eminently suited). Never ones to skimp on time taken to arrive at a psychotropic destination, Baker and Buckareff deploy seemingly every trick they know to delay that release, to hold back the seemingly inevitable explosion which, even at more than a third of the way into the single 40+ minutes track, still hasn’t yet revealed itself fully. The layers and loops accrue yet more mass, the rhythmic development edges forward nuance by nuance, hissing with steam-pistoning propulsive frissons and the countdown cycling onwards; surely there will be an end in sight soon? Is that a glow in the tinderbox, an oncoming disco train lurking at the entrance to the reality tunnel?

Halfway through and the steadying hand of the driver is keeping matters on an even keel; where Nadja travelled through distance and time before, here they are still concerned with mass and movement, but elementally tied to iron and earth, blood and marrow almost boiling under the pressure, pounding in the arteries, veins and bones from the toes to the tip of the skull. What’s that keening, coming up from the mix like the squalling, reverberant call from the cthonic core, that seismic rumble that shakes the very air? Feedback ahead, above, all around – are the exit routes secure, the supplies in store and the crew prepared?

Wait, is that brass? Perhaps. That screaming, excoriating, bruising crush of interlocking drumbeats and guitar chords feeling like they’re never going to end until that terminal fade and churn, that classic Nadja sound emerging at last, flowing clear and heavy into the smoke-drenched chamber of the hear(d) and now, a cavernous simplicity that works well at any volume: loud; and even louder.

-Linus Tossio-

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