Music Reviews

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Artist: NIMH
Title: The Missing Tapes
Format: CD
Label: Silentes
Rated: *****
When Giuseppe Verticchio/Nimh sent me this new cd along with Hall of Mirrors' debut, warning me that it was something completely different, I thought it would be in the wake of previous recordings of his using ethnic (mainly Thai) instruments and field recordings from his several trips to the Thailandese area. My mind went to the sadly never repressed "Distant Skylines", or to "Entities", with Amir Baghiri (now available on Silentes); but I was only partly right. "The Missing Tapes" is an altogether more conflictual work, more about layering and juxtaposing than merging; which doesn't mean that it is a lazy cut&paste of traditional instruments and electronics (quite the opposite, actually). I just think that this time Giuseppe was interested in creating some discordant, more physical soundscapes, with a few more rough edges than in the past. "Tape 1" begins with a whirlwind of minimal Jackee (a 3-string instrument) plucking, soon devastated by a layer of distortion and fragmented voices. "Tape 2" has more monochrome string picking (this time it's a Tzeebu, a Thai banjo), but the ebbing underlying ambience is given by menacing low-end sinewaves, as if a helicopter was flying low over your head. The electronics take over in "Tape 3", with percussive synth sweeps merging with a filtered mouth-organ drone and acoustic Thon Chatri drumming. Finally, "Track 4" is pure phonography, as explained by the laconic liner notes ("boat, market, temple, village, beach"). As a whole, "The Missing Tapes" was quite a surprise, and a positively jarring album. It has a wild, almost psychedelic ethnic feel which could potentially appeal to anybody going crazy for trendy, and often inferior, neo-kraut/weird folk/psych projects (which obviously doesn't mean that Verticchio intended to create a niche-friendly work), rather than traditional ethno-ambient listeners.

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