Thursday, April 15, 2021
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Nigel Mullaney: The Navigator

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Artist: Nigel Mullaney
Title: The Navigator
Format: LP
Label: Behind The Sky
Rated: * * * * *
There are not so many positive facts related to restrictions and lockdowns. Maybe one of the few is the impressive quantity of music releases, partially related to the excess of time amount available to work on sounds at studios or home studios, particularly for all those musicians and sound engineers, who usually spend a lot of time in forging sounds. Waiting for that moment when all these artefacts can be joined with some real audience... The biography of the skilled sound engineer Nigel Mullaney could match the profiling of this kind of sampler/keyboards worms (a big jump in the evolution of bookworms!). Making computer music since he was 11, the aural material he forged over the years was licensed for use mostly in TV shows and films, broadcasted or available on popular networks and platforms like Netflix, HBO, BBC, Fox, AMC, Marvel, DC. Nigel also spread some breakbeat stuff in the past as well as more explicitly esoteric contributions for a collaborative project (nicely named Best Before) with the English occult author and publisher Ray Sherwin, co-founder together with Peter J.Carroll of the so-called chaos magick, but besides grimoires and danceable beats, he shows a love for the somehow sacred melting of vintage, modular and digital synths in this output, whose "esoteric" inspiration is the mythical voyage of St.Brendan, also known as The Navigator, whose quest for a sort of Eden (named "Terra Repromissionis Sanctorum" in the 120 original manuscripts that circulated mostly in Europe of "Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis" or Tír na nOg, the Irish otherworld), embellished by that magical halo of Irish tales (even if there are some resemblances in his stories with the tales of another famous mariner, Sindbad), supposedly brought him and his crew on landing on American continent centuries before Columbus, or maybe on Iceland or Faer Oer. This bestseller of the Middle Ages cannot be considered a hagiography of St.Brendan, but its fascinating aspect lays in the fact that it looks more like a quest for the divine, that is what that could have propelled the ten stages of the musical journey offered by Nigel. The source of some sounds could be recognized by trained ears of synth lovers. I'm pretty sure that Nigel used a Korg Sigma of his collection which was proudly exhibited at Synthfest 2019, as I perceive the presence of many Korgish sounds, even if that crystalline drop you can hear the lovely "Paradise of Birds" - one of those tracks where get closer to those stylistic coastlines where Polyporus seemed to quote Californian New Age cassettes era - inspired a quarrel between me and a friend who listened to it (it seems coming from an Alesis or a Korg - but not the Sigma, maybe an MS series - to me, from a Behringer Poly to my friend). My favourite moments of this voyage are the ones where Nigel manages to transpose vintage sounds into structures that fit the so-called chill-step format (the favourite genre of many coders, while programming apparently) such as "A Shifting Sea", "Eternal Return" or "The Final Voyage", where he seems to quote Boards of Canada's harvesting (!), but synth lovers will appreciate most of the stages of this sonic journey.



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