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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Review: Nonsun - Black Snow Desert

Experimental drone sound: immediately you know that you can expect long stretched songs with repeated sounds. And that is exactly what you get. A two disc album, seven songs lasting a total of 84 minutes. The debut album of this Ukrainian duo is – after two EP’s- quite an achievement.

Finding a balance between spinning out a song long enough to give it time to mature in the listeners mind, but not to make it longer than necessary is not an easy one. Nonsun manages to do so fairly well.

The album starts with No Pity for the Beast, No Shelter for the Innocent, in which a dead and deserted landscape is created. A melody starts to kick in after about six minutes, created by guitar, but a very nice asset is that both guitar and drum have their roles in taking the listener deeper into this deserted place that might have a glimpse of sunlight, somewhere.

Ashes of Light, Demons of Justice has a more metal feel to it and even sounds vaguely rock’n’roll at some point, but in a Mad Max style. The song has ups and downs in heaviness but in both ways it has a powerful way of dragging you in.

Chrystal Empty, for me spins out the droning sound too long. The song starts to annoy and I am happy that there is a change to the mighty song Peace of Decay, Joy of Collapse, which has an exciting way of building up. The use of percussion is great here and gives tension to the song that seemingly builds op to nothing but gets under your skin in a pleasantly awkward way.

The shortest song, with just under eight minutes, Heart’s Heavy Burden, screeches for quite a while and therefore it makes me uncomfortable, yet in a longing way: like in an exciting movie I feel taken away to a ghastly place, and am eager to know what will happen next. It leaves me unfulfilled, for the song does not really have an ending. It just merges with Observing the Absurd. And the title suits the atmosphere. After feeling abandoned by the non-ending of the previous song, this song makes me feel even more lost. It takes eight minutes before the song changes and some hopeful melody starts to arise. The very soft bass line at the end of the song yet again shows desolation, though. Finally, Rest of Tragedy, forms the end of a long, deserted musical journey. It is a great way to end an album of sounds capes of misery. Both slow empty sounds and louder, harsher melodies finish this album that could easily be used as a soundtrack to a lot of art house movies.

If you do not fear long, screeching, dark song structures, this is a great album to fill a gloomy evening. Here and there a song did not need all that time to spin out. Then again, it just adds to the feeling of loss that the band no doubt would have wanted you to feel during this musical trip.

Written by Martijn Bakker


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