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A brisk journey into space with hard-hitting space ambient post-BM - 67%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, April 15th, 2019

From Tolyatti in the Volga River area of European Russia comes this one-man atmospheric / post-BM project which has already racked up a considerable discography, mostly of EPs and singles but not many albums, since landing on Planet Earth back in 2013. "Starthrone" is only Nebula Orionis' third album and, to judge from the track titles, has a theme of travellers from Earth landing on and transforming distant planets, and having to live with the consequences of their decisions. For the most part this work is instrumental, driven by gritty guitars and space-ambient synthesiser in equal parts and supported by programmed drumming.

The title track is a strong starter, brisk and very hard-hitting with those synth drums, while cold space pure-toned synth notes float overhead and guitars grind in the background. It sets the template for the rest of the album to follow: a strong, driving if repetitive rhythm, thumping drums, frigid synth tone backwash and melodies and riffs that repeat over and over. Ghost choirs and piano melodies add to the majesty of the layered music on some tracks. There is a lot of repetition and sometimes this can be monotonous but most tracks do build up to a dramatic climax of swelling synth orchestral wash, martial tinny drumming and sighing ghost voices. Some spoken-word recordings are present though they get a bit lost in the bombast.

The album does feature some very beautiful and emotionally evocative music but much of it is very flat and mechanical in feel. Some listeners might feel the music is too busy and too fast-paced for them to be able to savour the atmospheres, moods and melodies that come and go just as fast as they appear. With recordings like this, where the theme is space travel and exploring the universe and alien worlds, I feel that there should be moments where the music should just stop and the stillness of space should take over, to allow listeners to imagine the vastness of the distances, real and imaginary, they might be travelling. There's a lot of reliance on synthesisers for space-ambient effects and music, and listeners might have the impression they've heard a lot of this kind of epic space-ambient post-BM / post-rock work before. Especially if they've listened to too many Lustre recordings, as I have. I will say though that "Starthrone" for all its repetition, is not nearly as monotonous as Lustre's work: sole Nebula Orionis member M42 treats each track more as a self-contained song universe and less as a long exercise in layering synth-based rhythms with effects.

I haven't heard that much of Nebula Orionis' work but from the few snippets I know, "Starthrone" isn't typical of the project's body of recordings and might just be a one-off experiment.