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Sunday, 31 January 2010

SubVersion Stop 69: Nest - Retold LP (Serein 001)

Nest comprises Deaf Center's Otto Totland and Huw Roberts. They made waves in 2007 with a self-titled six tracker, receiving glowing reviews. Countering speculation that traditional instruments turn to dynamic mud when paired with electronics, their pianism ranges from euphorically charged (think Keith Jarrett, minus whimpers and outcries) and demurely reserved (Nils Frahm's quieter passages, or Craig Armstrong's "Piano Works" album). Generally speaking, the piano can eroticise and narratively understructure a composition, rather than be the sole instrument, and that's what we have here: twelve works combining atmospheres, drones and additional instrumentation to strike the heart with an astonishing depth and clarity.

For those already aware of the free Serein EP, the revision of "Cad Goddeau" is a welcome surprise, but the real winning factor is in the five new tracks, which are unbelievably more beautifully realised. "The Helwick" stands out as a hybrid of Max Richter's dramatic instrumental leverage, but doesn't devolve into overbearing kitsch. The piano's presence as the underlying 'hook' likens Nest to a more modern constituency and demographic of field research, rather than hollow reciting of classical genre-specifics.

Minimalism is traded with continuity and subtle development; harmony a property of the piano working with adjacent repertoires. And by embedding satisfying repetition, Nest superimpose dreaminess into digestion. Their mission statement of "music without pretence" is exemplified on "Marfjellet", which differentiates the palette, without harsh, grating dissonance. It adds up to music drawing the attendant in through polished veneer and a persistent urge to please. Horizons are multifaceted for where Nest go next, but by this showing, it'll be wrapped in the svelte magnificence we know (or may not yet know) and love from them.

Purchase CD and MP3 versions

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