Presidiomodelo ‎– Внутренняя Империя

Presidiomodelo Внутренняя Империя MC NKT 2018

Since 2016 the UK based NKT label has been the outlet for a small clutch of cassette releases from the aligned project Nokuit, where I personally became aware of both label and project via a 2017 release (reviewed here). Now the label has branched out to issue a new project Presidiomodelo which is a Siberian ritual ambient trio where the title of the tape Внутренняя Империя is then noted to translate to “Inner Empire”.

Being ancient and archaic in expression and execution, the single composition spans around 31 minutes of music in total, which is split across the two sides of the tape. Covering a wide variety of interlinked sonic moods and themes, the patter of rain provides a naturalistic setting from the outset, before droning mid-toned synths sweep into sonic frame, undercut with low key metallic scraping textures and other field recording elements, before settling down into a muted looped industrial rumble. Soon enough things evolve again with deep percussive thuds, ritual signing bowls, metallic chimes and atonal wailing of woodwind instruments, while heavily echoed treated vocals evoke a choir like effect and offset with more naturalistic elements grounds the mood in an earthbound perspective. While the mid-section it is categorized by animated and forceful cyclic drones, just a quickly the tone shifts off into varied segments of: fast paced ritual percussion; minimalist ritual chimes; sparse woodwind instrumentation; widescreen droning synths; churning bass toned thrum; while the pattering rain returns at the very end to close the loop.

On more than a few occasions I was reminded of the obscure French project Chöd and given the ritual ambient context of this release it is perhaps inevitable that a comparison to the Aural Hypnox Collective could also be made. Yet these comparisons should be read as a mark of quality, as this in no way feels to be copyist or derivative, given its own distinct compositional approach, and with at times a more muted industrial churn. Fold out multi-panel J-card with suitable archaic and ritualistic imagery rounds out the physical presentation, with a digital download also provided for good measure.

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Nokuit – Patterns of Instability

Nokuit – Patterns of Instability MC NKT 2017

In knowing effectively nothing about this project, a quick perusal of their website gave some clues they may be London, United Kingdom based. But regardless of the truth of this, the promo blurb for this release initially captured my attention: “Swirling drones become a sonic lens which drifts and roams through the currents and threads within the contemporary landscape. Mingling amongst the town square demonstration, flipped upside down through the cameras into the news media rooms and editing suites, dragged up into helicopters looking down into streets and homes, then bounced across the globe by satellites floating in the atmosphere. Spam bots and malware, encryption data, analysis of YouTube, uploads and text messages. Rather than focusing in on any specific geographical event, ‘Patterns of Instability’ takes a widescreen approach to our contemporary age of discontent and digs deep into timeless feelings of frustration”. In then relating this description back to London, it certainly reflects the pervading ‘angst malaise’ riddled atmosphere I experienced during my five years of residency there in the early 2000’s (and also included the observation of the Government’s overt obsession with public CCTV surveillance – which is now found within the majority of the UK’s urban spaces). But I digress from the review at hand.

Musically speaking the tape features two untitled and lengthy tracks (24 and 21 minutes respectively), which is dark ambient mixed with post-industrial sonic expression. Being broadly soundscape orientated in its construction, there is a darkly meandering and at times paranoid atmosphere at play.  From the opening of track one, a dourly muted and minimal synth line provide a semblance of fleeting melody, while distant crowd noise, creaking gates and other sparse industrialized debris engenders a distinct, slightly detached ‘Kafkaesque’ tone. Yet things evolve substantially from there, as at around the 10-minute mark it tonally shifts into a soundscape of forceful, semi-melodious drones. When coupled with sampled choral vocals and an Army marching drill, it all combines to (fleetingly) sound like a more industrialized version of Les Joyaux De La Princesse, while the final segment of the track then evolves towards a doom riddled dark ambience with strong orchestral styled synth pads.

On the flip side, the second track opens with a passage of animated and driving sonics based around a multitude of sweeping layers and pulsing bass tones, further mixed with crowd chatter and other field recording elements. Yet soon enough these falls away to feature another sparse yet forceful melancholic synth line, and from there slowly evolves into a more abrasive and textural sweeping soundscape. The final concluding segment features, muted noise, a lone and sustained piano note and backed by layered media voices (and while the voices are spoken to sound serious and earnest, the juxtaposed mood makes them sound decidedly dishonest and/ or untruthful in their message).

Perhaps it is not too much of a stretch to describe Patterns of Instability and an abstract but very effective sound-score to a modern dystopian film (think Children of Men or similar). As such this album is a varied and nuanced, mood driven work, which is highlighted through its meticulous sonic detailing and post-industrial/ experimental compositional flair. Limited to 100 pro-duplicated tapes, and fold out J-card, this is absolutely worth your while in investigating further.