Label: Gizeh Records
Recorded in a few short, improvised hours one day in May 2017 by the trio of Aidan Baker (Nadja), Simon Goff (Molecular), and Thor Harris (Swans, Thor & Friends), Noplace is an album that possesses the kind of depth that would never hint at the way it was created, even if it has been edited down from that improvised session. Hypnotic in the most wonderful of ways, Noplace is an album that creates a psychedelic haze, taking the listener to some place more relaxing and spiritually cleansing than whatever place you may find yourself physically within. This is music that is good for the soul.
Given the repetitive nature of Noplace, a krautrock feel is inevitable, and the album taps in to the way that genre, at its best, made small variations and subtle shifts so very exciting and profound. The component pieces of each of these seven tracks are largely the same – with them being built upon rhythms that are often sparse, yet always effective; darting, questing violin; and guitar that, very often, sounds like anything other than guitar – and as a result there is a deep unity across the album, as if it were moving with a singular purpose and connection that is all the more impressive given the improvised nature of Noplace.
The repetitive nature of the album also makes it inherently hypnotic, and this is the chief appeal (and success) of the album. This is a record to sink in to late in the day, as the final rays of the sun give way to the first glimmers of the stars at night, reveling in the beauty that comes with such slow changes. This is also true of Noplace as a whole; despite being repetitive and hypnotic, at no point does it dwell too long on a melody or movement, with the violin and guitar adding plenty of texture and geography to the solid groundwork laid down by Thor Harris’ percussion. Yet that, in itself, is full of small shifts and changes, of the kind that happen in such small increments that, much like the passage of day in to night, they are hard to detect until after they have actually happened.
This is not to say the album likes variety, though. Each song has its own distinct identity and focus, such as the interplay between the repetitive background melody of ‘Red Robbin’ and the guitars and violins; or the hazy euphoria of ‘Noplace III’, which shares DNA with fellow experimental, hypnotic travelers such as later-day Boredoms; whilst there is something undeniably haunting about ‘Tin Chapel’. That Noplace is based upon an improvised session only makes these achievements all the more impressive.
But ultimately, Noplace is the kind of album you come to because you want something to sink deeply in to, to carry you away from whatever troubles you might be holding on to, and to find some kind of catharsis. On all these criteria it is an absolute success, making Noplace an addictive listen with an all too rare power and character.