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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

NIGEL MULLANEY: The Turning (2021)

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Still surprising and above all very good, from beginning to end!

1 Lost at Sea 6:44

2 Alison 7:47

3 I Talk to the Skies 6:09

4 Higher Altitude 5:28

5 Berlin Nocturne 6:58

6 Astral Turf 5:10

7 Modulationism 6:10

8 On Reflection I Should Have Stayed 4:53

9 The Turning 5:22

10 Nostalgia Bomb 6:36

(CD/DDL 61:33) (V.F.)

(Modular synth beats)

You remember 31? It's the first album from Nigel Mullaney to be produced on DiN. Being more comfortable creating moods and snippets of music for various Library Music, he has created a vast canvas of music and turned it over to Ian Boddy for final production. And like 31, Ian has selected the music, the tracks and the order of the tracks to complete THE TURNING, an album that explores another electronic canvas filled with rhythmic complexity with stunning landscapes of a new tonal freshness created with a mix of modular and Moog synthesizers.

Two musical waves are fixed in a drifting momentum, emitting scarlet streaks and then thin lines of reverberations that rumble through the soundscape of Lost at Sea. A rain of crystalline materials decorates this landscape that a circular line of reverberations sweeps like a lighthouse. The first pulsations, muffled in this mass of sounds, awaken a psybient fauna already trampled by the rattling of wood. Hoops of vaporous materials try to keep their circular forms that already also more frank beats are dragging Lost at Sea in a marvellous Electronica. A down-tempo revamped in the modernity and driven by a fabulous bass line that hammers us its curt chords for a dance with the luminous nymphs that show up everywhere in the Lost at Sea ambiences. My ears have already noticed these sounds that were absent in 31. They will make us idolize these long introductory and/or pre-final phases of the 9 other tracks of THE TURNING. Alison follows with an impressive structure of percussions and of percussive elements. The melody that lives here bursts at the same time as its rhythm, 38 seconds after the second minute. It's prismatic in genre with an electronic owl tone and its momentum gives it the necessary dimension to float on this texture of rhythm created in genius. And it won't be the only one! I Talk to the Skies is one of the ambient tracks. Its landscape suffers from these dull explosions from which moan voices distorted by the nature of sounds that flirt with a pastoral atmosphere. It's like hearing the stained glass from the heat of the sun. These tracks, like Astral Turf and Nostalgia Bomb are conceived in tonal pains expressed with great intensity in these short moments without rhythm of Nigel Mullaney's second album on DiN Records.

We go back to this form of Electronica and Psybient with the opening of Higher Altitude and these bubbles of sounds bursting in the murmurs of rocks. Sneaky, a creeping bass line snakes this ambience with jumps that wait for the arrival of percussions, and their echoes effects, to structure a rhythm that gets rid of organic material. The rhythm combines with a zombie dance hovering from left to right on a melody aerated by a nebulous 80's tonal synth play. Berlin Nocturne adopts the structure of Higher Altitude with a big 140 seconds of creative rhythm concentrated between two phases of very effective ambiences. Its opening is chipped off by grainy woosshh and waasshh. I can hear those hooo-oo-ooo of spectres fighting for a last round of life when the first beats shake these intense ambiences of perdition. The rhythm which is rising up owes it to a superb texture of tribal and modern percussion in a short, uplifting phase. With its organic rhythmic structure and bass releasing shadows of anxiety, Modulationism is a surprisingly rhythm without rhythmic life that makes its racket in an enchanting tonal setting. The synth layers have that Berlin School haze flavor in this track where the word trance finds its new definition. After a poignant opening of sadness, On Reflection I Should Have Stayed leans on a rhythm more in the rock style. A solid rhythm that sees the formation of harmonies flowing in loops and others flowing as a message of hope that fits rather well with this playful structure by these synth loops that unfold like a balloon losing its oxygen, very high in our head. This is the most synth-pop, catchiest track on THE TURNING. The title-track follows with its opening filled of sound's interferences. A distant rhythmic structure is getting formed long before the first minute. Its stroboscopic bursts will become the spearhead of an improbable moment of Disco girdled by the spasmodic movement that surrounds it indistinctly from the beginning. We reach this passage where the rhythm disappears in ambiences. These passages are very intense on all the tracks of this album. But there are some where it's even more carabined. Like here where the loops in suspensions become again the essence of this Disco which flows so well in its Psybient elements.

The art of the modular is in full expansion and its creators are not strangers to the phenomenon by constantly pushing the limits of an imagination which does not seem to have respite. Excellent in its tonal envelope, its convoluted rhythms and its surreal ambiences, THE TURNING is the logical suite of the work undertaken by Nigel Mullaney on 31. Ian Boddy brings his invitational touch to it and wraps it up with his own personal touch in the same way as he does on the different compilations of his label DiN, giving this particular fragile art the necessary impulse for a better visibility while maintaining its fragile balance. Still surprising and above all very good, from beginning to end!

Sylvain Lupari (July 12th, 2021) ****½*

Available at DiN's Bandcamp

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