NORD: Dystopia (2021)
Updated: Oct 25, 2021
“Nord has a talent for composing and playing an EM that stays away from complexity”
1 Heavy Fog 4:51
2 Electric City 5:18
3 Surviving Instinct 9:36
4 Void 9:14
5 Dark Thoughts 7:42
6 Walking on Clouds 10:56
(DDL 47:41) (V.F.)
(Progressive E-Rock, Berlin School)
It's been more than 7 months since Nord had provided us with a new album-download. His last one, Pictures from a Distorted Mirror, dates back to last February. An unusual thing from Sztakics István Attila who has always been regular as a clock. But in the meantime, the Romanian artist realized one of his dreams by arranging and participating in a rock opera last August. He thus comes back to his roots with DYSTOPIA by offering real good electronic rocks on a 48 minutes long. A solid album as only he can do in a home production context.
It is from reverberating twists, almost borborygmus, that Heavy Fog comes out of our speakers. The synth layers and the vampiric shadows accumulate in this short introduction which flirts with dark ambient. The first rhythmic oscillations pulse at the foot of the 90th second. Static, the rhythm makes dance the neurons under layers of synthesizer with scents of Pink Floyd in it. A carousel of arpeggios floats in the background, adding another rhythmic perspective that enriches the 5 minutes of DYSTOPIA's first track. Divided into 2 parts, Electric City manages to make its jumping keys waddling innocently under a thick layer of electronic ambiences. The track finally gets its rhythm out with the arrival of the percussions, some 20 seconds after the second minute. It becomes an intense cosmic rock with good drums and percussive effects as the synth makes roaring its guitar from its gaps. It's almost 2 minutes of aural pleasure supported by very nice percussions and the echo effects that surround them. First long track of this new downloadable album of Nord, Surviving Instinct exploits its almost 10 minutes in a semi-ambient, semi-rhythmic structure. Its opening is layered with heavy vampiric layers that cast their shadows with a dramatic vision. Aside from the cosmic electronic noises, we hear more and more clicks imitating the march of time. Still in waddle mode to make the keys dance like in Halloween, the sequencer emerges from limbo humming of absent voices about 20 seconds into the 3rd minute. This stationary rhythm serves the cause of the synth and its many solos ululating on a minimalist and circular movement. The rumblings that come and go act like sails of threats that will lose this instinct when the solos become hyper melodious around the 6th minute. The percussions jump in at this point on Surviving Instinct, giving it that third burst of static rock to showcase the synth and percussions. It takes a few listens, but you end up enjoying this track, if only for the splendid synth solos. And in the end, we find a resemblance with the cosmic rocks of Michael Garrison.
And above all, it precedes one of those electronic rocks that we rarely hear. The sequencer doesn't waste a second in tinkling a diabolical melody inspired by John Carpenter's Halloween theme, with a few nuances. The circular movement has a rhythmic limpidity that gives it more velocity. The setting of Void respects the ideology behind its title with a reverberating layer and distortion effects that turn into scarlet shadows hiding cosmic crumpling and other sound effects. While the sequencer seems to freeze on the same key, the ambiences tighten up so to make these rustles heard a little better, which have turn into bizarre effects. The percussions lighten up the paranoia perspective, as they take Void to a big electronic rock well hit by solid percussions, drenched by solos and prismatic effects and driven by jumping balls into spasmodic bursts. One of the best E-Rock I've heard! To be discovered with the volume turned up! On a circular movement of the sequencer, Dark Thoughts exploits the dark ambient side a bit more. The layers and the lamentations of the synthesizer dose a more apocalyptic vision to this title which finds all the same its rhythmic vision towards the very end. Want it or not, one has the impression that Void has overshadowed the two other rhythmic structures of this very good DYSTOPIA album from my friend Sztakics István Attila. After Dark Thoughts, it's the turn of Walking on Clouds which offers an opening as ethereal as the vision of its title before offering the stammering of the sequencer a little before the fourth minute. The flow is slow, heavy, and draped in anesthetizing synth layers. The sequencer spins two to three lines in a static texture that gives the synth full freedom to coo some very good synth solos. Some of these solos even make the hairs on my arms raising. A clear sign of passion and emotion! As for the sequencer, it manages to create a slight maelstrom that roots the rhythm in a stationary state before it lets off a rocket, a little after the 7th minute, to join the percussions that breathe a rock tone into Walking on Clouds.
I stopped looking! Nord has a talent for composing and playing an EM that stays away from complexity. DYSTOPIA is another solid album that has all the ingredients to satiate fans of Berlin School, cosmic rock and electronic rock with lively and catchy rhythms while weaving synth webs that become solos and melodies. In short, there is still no reason for me to tell you to stay away from his albums. This DYSTOPIA is one big EM album!
Sylvain Lupari (October 25th, 2021) *****
Available at Nord Bandcamp