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Blissfully Unaware. - 80%

Perplexed_Sjel, August 7th, 2008

They say every story has two sides, well, that is very applicable to Nadja’s latest effort in a long line of efforts, ‘The Bungled & The Botched’. Nadja have assumed a rather different style of late, dropping the epic drone songs for a more mellow edge when it came to full-lengths like ‘Desire In Uneasiness’. This record, ‘The Bungled & The Botched’ bridges the gap between the old and new, if you will. As much as I’ve come to love Nadja over recent months, their material can come across as stale and recycled at times. Some of the collaborations have left a lot to be desired too, however, the recent effort with Black Boned Angel of New Zealand was a look into a different side of Nadja. One might conceive the idea that the style of that EP was so different because it was a collaboration, meaning creative control wasn’t entirely in the hands on one entity, but in two. That may be the case to a degree, but ‘The Bungled & The Botched’ is a fantastic insight into the latest direction of the Canadian duo as they continue to tear up the rule book and rewrite it as their own.

‘The Bungled & The Botched’ is, as I said, very much a story with two very different sides. The first side being, to me, the most important and magnificent, is the self-titled song. ‘The Bungled & The Botched’ song is a continuation of the mellow side to Nadja’s unbreakable sound. It begins as it means to go on. It drops the drone façade of heavy guitars and keyboard orientated ambience for a loveable, more unique way of life. This song, unlike most Nadja songs, is open to expressing it’s ideas and values in a much more productive sense. Songs like this make the Nadja experience much more accessible. Whilst the drone epics of yesteryear haven’t entirely disappeared, which ‘Absorbed In You’ will indicate later on, the experience of this fine Canadian act has gotten a lot sweeter with the mellow side being more open to leading the bands soundscapes. Often, in the past, Nadja would rely heavily on distorted ambience to drive the melodies forward, but a lot of that aspect has been lifted and removed from proceedings with the self-titled song, most notably at the beginning and for the first ten minutes of this almost half an hour masterpiece. The diverse nature of Nadja has never really been given a stage to showcase it’s side on, but this song has given it that outlet. Whilst the main ideas behind showcasing the bands talents are still the same, there are a few alterations in which Nadja go about showing this. On previous records, Nadja would often start out as heavy as ever, with distorted riffs and pummelling percussion and this would be followed by several minutes of pure euphoric ambience in the form of slower and ultimately, less heavy riffs. Keyboards would often become a pivotal part in this aspect on Nadja’s game, when the music has been slowed right down, not that it was ever that fast to begin with. However, on this self-titled track, there’s a difference. Instead of beginning with momentum, Nadja builds up to it using slow sweet sounding melodies on an acoustic guitar, although momentum is reached when, half way through, hard and harsh riffs take control before we settle back down into ambient territory. The diverse and rather sombre sound is emotionally draining in the best way possible. The keyboards are ever present in the mix, however, they don’t force themselves upon the audience until later on. A swirling vision of beautiful, yet untouched landscapes comes to mind with this awesome sound which is driven by acoustics. Whilst the magnificence of this song isn’t matched by ‘Absorbed In You’, this record should be purchased alone for this blissful and wonderful ambient driven song.

The second half to this story is a more familiar one. ‘Absorbed In You’, although much more pressing in sound than the self-titled song, isn’t as effective. Whilst I can appreciate the drone elements of Nadja being enforced in such a manner, it doesn’t quite compare to the lush sounds of the self-titled song, which blew my mind. Despite the fact that this song has taken a much heavier touch to begin with, it didn’t leave any impression upon me. I actually consider the harsh swirling ambience of the keyboards, which is often quite eerie and loud, out of place on this record. Like most Nadja epics, it takes some time before it truly gets going. Once it does, the song actually unfolds into a much better shape than it did to begin with. After some ten minutes, the song is slowed right down and a lot of the distortion, which can become tedious, is taken out and replaced by other and more significant elements that reinforce the soundscapes. Once the song has taken away the distortion, the ambience of the keyboards because far more clear and begins to have much more impact upon the fascinated listener. A piano is thrown into the mix, bringing back some of the beauty and awe-inspiring touches from the first song to the foreground, where they belong. Whilst this may be the case, the percussion seems a little out of place, much like the heavy distortion of the drone elements earlier on. Place this song on any other drone release and it might have the desired impact, but on this particular record, it seems to lack direction and style that the self-titled song brought to the mix to begin with. As the progression of the song begins to take hold, the distortion once again becomes a factor in the mesh. Once again, I’m not overly impressed with it. Whilst on any other record, it might seem at home, it doesn’t here. There is an inclusion on vocals, which are, distorted too. They remind me of the type of vocals one would find on a funeral doom record. Eerie, depressed and emotionally charged. Whilst they suit the distortion of the heavily down tuned guitars, they don’t really seem necessary. Whilst the self-titled song is brilliant, this one is a bit disappointing.


caspian, July 23rd, 2008

Finally! As excellent as Christ Send Light was Nadja haven't really been near the top of their game for, well, a year or so, which means maybe 15 or so releases. It's such a relief to see Nadja getting back to writing proper drone epics with the usual touch of class and awesomeness that made things like the Touched remake, Bodycage and Truth Becomes Death just so good. I don't know if a band only 6 years old can have a "classic" era, but this is Nadja's return to their classic era; even if said era only finished 15 months ago- time moves ever so slowly in the world of Nadja, it seems.

But anyway this is a pretty damn excellent record; I was kind of nervous about buying this (The original version of Absorbed in You really sucked) but turns out that this is a pretty excellent beast of a release. It's typical Nadja but a good deal more purposeful then we've seen these guys for some time. Less "One riff, progressive layering" and in its' place some relatively interesting song structures that suggest Aidan and co. put a fair bit of time into the conception of the music found here.

Needless to say, it's not terribly groundbreaking; this stuff sounds like typical Nadja, just better then usual, I guess. The Bungled and the Botched is rather solid stuff- various ambient nonsense before a big riff just comes along and pounds away for a while. It's kind of reminscent of Touched, just in the way that there's this big riff that just keeps on going and going and going. It's pretty solid- there really needs to be more of said doomy pounding in Nadja's catalogue- but it's the next song that makes this album as good as it is.

Absorbed in You has a fairly terrible first ten minutes- lots of arrhythmic, pounding noise, but then it opens up into what is possibly the best 20 minutes of Nadja that we've seen yet. A piano line establishes itself (and some terrible drum machine fills almost kill the song), various time-stretched to hell bits of guitar fly around the mix, before everything gets all fuzzy and despairing and totally massive. I've always liked it when bands plod away on slow, repetitive jams, especcially when the motif or theme is of a very high quality; and this jam is of an extremely high quality. It's not really anything you haven't heard before from Nadja- piano and guitar supply the main riff, heaps of different fuzzy lines get dumped on top of it- it's just that it's done really, really well. Unlike many recent Nadja releases there's not an overload of distortion and noise, it's just this stately, beautiful steadily unfolding soundscape that's really quite beautiful to behold.

This is the first Nadja album for a while that I can really say is worthwhile getting even if you already own a heap of Nadja. Absorbed in You is terrific, and the title track certainly isn't too bad either. Well worth getting, whether you're new to Nadja or not.