NICKOLAS MOHANNA: Transmission Hue (Low Point)


Posted on Aug 25th 2010 01:21 am

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Nickolas Mohanna: Transmission Hue

Transmission Hue
Low Point 2010
05 Tracks. 38mins33secs

There has, in recent years, a strong revival of vintage electronic music as it was once used by pioneers of the Krautrock/Kosmische scene to explore totally unknown sound worlds. Following a string of low key releases as Vakhchav, Brooklyn-based musician Nickolas Mohanna has collected a handful of tracks built using guitars, vintage modular synthesizers and electronics, on his debut album, released on the rather excellent Low Point imprint. Clocking at just under forty minutes, split into five tracks, the album owes much to early Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schultze records. Transmission Hue doesn’t quite share the celestial concern of the former or the post orchestral immensity of the latter, yet, there are in these five tracks undeniable similarities in terms of textures and overall approach.

Working primarily with evolutive drone-like structures, Mohanna opts in most parts for expressive soundscapes by adding peripheral noises and electronics, and makes extensive use of modular synthesis to bring richer textures into the mix. The compositions are, in essence, minimal, often built around just a handful of sound sources, but what Mohanna makes of them seriously expands the scope of each track. By applying small yet constant changes to the sounds envelop, altering their intrinsic nature and texture, he finds himself with a much richer pool to play with. And this is exactly where the connection between his work and that of the aforementioned pioneers of German electronic music is to be found. Indeed, while the technology used is intricately linked to the resulting work, and often indirectly dictates it, it is in effect just a tool allowing Nickolas Mohanna to develop beautiful sonic configurations and let the mind wander freely within these. Curiously, the shortest piece, the four and a half minute Thin Ice, is the richest and most intricate here, its constant rattle of delayed and processed percussions placed over grainy electronics giving it a somewhat wider scope than that encountered either before or after it.

By contrast, Of Lethe and Configurations In Placing Sky, which follow, appear much more minimal and introspective. Here perhaps more than anywhere else hangs the ghost of Klaus Schulze, as Mohanna explores a series of particularly atmospheric terrains, with very little more than the main sonic body of the drones at the core of these respective pieces, and occasional clusters of noises and electronics, to focus on. There is however an interesting progression from rather icy to much warmer tones on Configurations In Placing Sky as the album draws to a close, as if Mohanna was anxious to leave his audience on friendly terms. This is all very different from the two opening pieces, Dialogues and Gishiki, which operate on a more open basis. Here the source drones are modulated to appear as if bouncing from one wall to another on the former, or born out of statics and distortions, then relentless smoothened until there is nothing left of the original coarse shell on the latter. But, while much richer and seeming more complex and layered than the latter pieces, the fundamental minimalist aspect rules here as much as on the rest of the record.

This is quite a short offering from Nickolas Mohanna, but one which, while rooted in the past, is actually totally relevant to today and feels at once fresh and contemporary. It would be interesting to see how he would apply the same ethos to much longer pieces, but as it stands, Transmission Hue is a very enchanting debut.


Low Point

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One Response to “NICKOLAS MOHANNA: Transmission Hue (Low Point)”

  1. simonon 03 Dec 2010 at 9:41 pm

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