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Gigantic and epic but disjointed music - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, February 12th, 2013

Reissued by Broken Spine Productions with new (and duller) artwork in 2012, this album consists of just the one 60-minute track of bliss-out hypnotic drone doom metal. It's a huge, sometimes hulking and sometimes quite beautiful work within the duo's narrow musical parameters: layer upon layer of guitar-generated grainy noise textures shaped and moulded by endless looping repetition accompanied by simple rhythms and beats throughout which fragile effects and whispering vocals flit or waft.

A gentle and warm entry into the album on a fairy trail of soothing synthesiser suddenly gives way and listeners plunge into an all-enveloping fluid vortex of loud guitar grind fuzz, solemn beating percussion and background rhythmic foghorn blasts. The angel synthesiser sighs are still present but ebb and flow as if the audience is hanging onto whatever threads connecting it to the outside world are available. The abrasive drone storm soon sweeps us up into the cosmos from where it came however. The music is relentless, implacable and monolithic as it steadily and lumberingly pounds away and a new beat, dull and thudding, develops.

Changes usually happen gradually or, if sudden, in an almost unassuming way. Guitar wash and synthesiser alike bleed into each other into a mighty beast of sound, triumphal in bearing, growing in volume, seething ferocity and intensity. The music advances, then retreats, then takes greater steps, retreats again, and so on, building up slowly to a presumed shrill climax. The music does grow increasingly hysterical but those of us who know Nadja are aware the music can pass abruptly into another cycle of build-up - and so it does here. There's a lot of crunch resulting in ripples of bleeding noise grit, emphasised by sharp beats, continuing for what seems like a never-ending tortuous amount of time. About the 42nd time, the album enters its most over-dramatic phase with slabs of guitar crunch cut and interspersed with quiet ripples of ambient tone that vary in volume.

After the 48th minute, the album enters a quiet phase which again sees in an escalation of a repeated loop, this time with guitar-generated and other effects added as icing on a cresting cake of drone and sound-wash. The music evolves during this phase, piling on layer after layer of noise and effect, transforming from a gentle cub into a near-raging lion, growing tense and unable to contain the pressures building within. Shrill flute twitters within as though something inside the music has gone insane.

The whole edifice is gigantic and some very gorgeous and surprisingly varied music, often contrasted in volume between two strands of sound, is presented. Even so, the way in which the music builds up and climbs ever higher peaks of intensity and volume, only to fall away without really "confronting" its complexity or contradictions in some kind of climax or resolution about two or three times in the track might be frustrating to most listeners. Unfortunately this treatment does happen on other Nadja recordings; it's as if Nadja refuse to learn from past experiences that music does need tension release, that it might occasionally need to break out and then be brought down gently or gradually.

As a result, "Thaumogenesis" doesn't sound like a truly unified structure of sound: it comes across as a disjointed series of slabs of sound in which the common denominator is riding up a rollercoaster, reaching the top and ... starting at or near the bottom of the rollercoaster again. What happens after reaching the top, you don't really quite know.