NEST: Retold (Serein Limited)


Posted on Feb 1st 2010 01:00 am

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Nest: Retold

Serein Limited 2010
11 Tracks. 54mins45secs

Boomkat: CD

Five years ago, Norwegian duo Deaf Center released an EP, Neon City, and an album, Pale Ravine, on Type, which defined the dawn of a new era in electronic music, one influenced by classical music and sombre atmospherics. Much has been written and said about the consequent work of one half of the pair, Erik Skodvin, as both head of the seminal Miasmah imprint and for his solo projects, most prominently Svarte Greiner. Otto A. Totland on the other hand has remained more elusive, with no known projects apart for Nest, a collaborative project with British music Huw Roberts. The pair released an eponymous debut digital EP on Roberts’ Serein imprint in 2007.

The appropriately titled Retold, the first CD release on Serein, compiles the six tracks from the original Nest EP and five new compositions. Combining acoustic textures, discreet electronics and classical brushes, Totland and Roberts create a startling sonic fabric which is deployed here into particularly haunting forms throughout. Crystalline piano, plucked strings and vast orchestral swathes are arranged in multiple combinations, from the fragile variations and delicate progressions of Lodge, Kyoto or Charlotte to the more epic and ambitious Trans Siberian, Far From Land or Amroth, to create a stunning progressive soundtrack. The album is essentially split into two halves. At first, the sound sources are limited, each piece lead by a primary instrument, often a piano or a plucked violin, with, as the record progresses, an increased emphasis on the orchestral motifs heard in the background, especially on the beautiful Marejellet.

From Cad Goddeu (Revised) onward, the focus is on a much ampler sound. From then on, the lead instruments become more integrated with the orchestral sections. This is particularly the case with the vast expanses of Trans Siberian, on which treated sounds are combined into a drone which serves as the backbone for a mournful piano line, or on the majestic Far From Land, which rises from a rather pretty violin-led first part into a choral centre piece, before receding onto delicate grounds as two pianos draw a poetic end part. There are, here again, some moments of intense fragility, especially on Wheatstone or The Twelve, on which lone pianos float above discreet field recordings or long evolutive drones, but here, unlike earlier, there is a certain solemnity which weights on the closing part of the record until the mood becomes entirely reflective on closing piece Amroth.

It would be easy to draw a parallel between this album and Totland’s work with Deaf Center, and in a way, the two share some common elements, yet, despite the much denser forms of the second half of Retold, the mood is nowhere near as dark and oppressive. Remains a taste for cinematic forms which will be familiar to those who appreciate the outputs of Miasmah or fans of the beautiful forms of modern classical and deserves to find a place of choice alongside these.


Serein Limited
Boomkat: CD

Filed in Albums | Tags: ,
Comments (4)

4 Responses to “NEST: Retold (Serein Limited)”

  1. Headphone Commuteon 11 Feb 2010 at 7:38 pm

    I finally got a chance to listen to Retold. It is incredibly gorgeous and intricately woven album. Serein does not disappoint with the first output, and perhaps, not unlike Miasmah, Roberts will break through with this release on his label, to capture the precious real-estate on our shelves of modern classical masterpieces.

  2. themilkmanon 12 Feb 2010 at 9:08 am

    It would definitely be great. I don’t know the label’s net releases, but if this album is anything to go by, Serein will definitely be a label to watch.

  3. […] ambient record extremely well. The second CD release on Welsh label Serein, following Nest’s Retold album earlier this year, Pine was recorded in a small church, but instead of relying on electronic […]

  4. […] mini album a few years ago which they complemented with additional compositions and published as Retold through Roberts’ Serein imprint last […]