Split Tape






The simple-titled Split Tape is a collaboration between the mysterious duo of NADA and the Shoegaze maestro Malte Cornelius Jantzen aka S ND Y  P RL RS (a stylized realization of sunday parlors). 50 cassettes have been produced and released in July 2013. They can be ordered at Bandcamp. Both acts are based in Berlin, but whereas S ND Y  P RL RS has already delivered his debut Rex (2012) on the Umor Rex label, the project called NADA is draped in mystery. The gentlemen might be versatile veterans or up-and-coming newcomers. Nobody is quite sure, and this tohubohu befuddlement works to the band’s advantage. Two tracks are featured, one on each side of the tape. Side A is a 13+ minutes long guitar-based tune by NADA whose inescapable pompousness and seeming acidity culminates in a wonderful surprise which is almost unchained right from the beginning, but not immediately graspable by the paralyzed listener. NADA’s shock-and-awe critter then meets S ND Y  P RL RS’ cloak-and-dagger mélange. Jantzen’s composition of 12+ minutes smarms the palate and bewilders the listener trifold: firstly via the enchanting soothingness itself, secondly due to the perceived incompatibility with NADA’s behemoth, and thirdly due to the completely different focus that annihilates and nullifies the intrinsic Shoegaze arabesques of the debut Rex. Add the strange photograph of Virginia Woolf to the spectrum, and one cannot help oneself but smirk about the alatoric contingency which is spawned of the project. Does the blue color of the tape find an equivalence in the music? And what could be the characteristic trait to cautiously explicate a possible meaning?



Yes indeed: Virginia Woolf blue it.


So far, the duo of NADA can draw from the mystique and serpentine enigmas that spiral like helixes around their pith of nonentity. But boy, are they for real! I’ll be clear: Spirit Cave Dweller is normally not the kind of music that finds its way to AmbientExotica, the primary – or primal? – reason being its unbelievably energetic physiognomy that has Doom tattooed all over its boundaries. The anacrusis is comparably soothing and mild-mannered, comprising of guitar-based sine tones whose polymorphous polyphony unleashes sanguine harmonies coated in alkaline liquids. Partly yearning and frighteningly portentous, this beginning prepares the listener for the things to come: adamantly jejune thunders. Before the first minute is over, a shrapnel of asbestus-like two-tone punkadelica chords crush the listening subject with a freight train of euphony. Yes indeed, the droning guitar riverbeds in the background are eminently majestic and fulminant, making the staccato rotorama not only tolerable, but elevate it to higher spheres.


This is Power Shoegaze of the comparably harmonious kind, and if it were not for the hectic drum kit infusion, this one could have been the track by S ND Y  P RL RS. While it seems as if this molten lava leviathan does not change over its long course of 13+ minutes, the tone sequences are indeed developing an even more cultivated theme of independence, insubordination and pressure. The final two minutes are among the very best for listeners who view this release with rose-tinted Ambient glasses (which were blown off the faces by the sheer guitar maelstroms long ago anyway), as the melody is isolated from the martelato drums which are then completely muted, making room for the comparably benign tone sequences to shine. The gentlemen of NADA end Spirit Cave Dweller with a rather acidic riff and leave a pumped listener behind whose blood is certainly boiling. The unison of Doom, Drone and Metal… that’s the spirit of the cave dweller!


Malte Cornelius Jantzen aka S ND Y  P RL RS is responsible for side B of the tape which contains an unexpectedly aeriform sylphlike cherubim. In Return the tune is called, and in contrast to the artist’s full-length debut Rex, this apparition does not only reside in the opposite stylistic spectrum, but is at home in an entirely different galaxy. So much is clear for me: I for one am glad that Jantzen’s moniker S ND Y  P RL RS is no one-trick pony, whatever this allusion may imply to the respective listener. Instead of delivering an electrifying Shoegaze anthem that could serve as an addendum to Rex, the artist makes a U-turn both style- and texture-wise. In Return features a device that could not previously been linked to Jantzen's work: a synth! Depending on one’s viewpoint, this either ennobles the Berlin-based artist’s vision or spoils its vigorous oomph. I tend to embrace it, especially so since the slow rise of the thin yet mellow drones paints a crystalline cavity, a fairy vault whose murky guitar placenta is illumined by pristine and utterly amicable sine clouds. While being a perfectly suitable take on the Drone formula, the glistening effulgence is nonetheless cautiously eclectic, with mysterious tones in minor perturbing the New Age-oid grove.


Chime-evoking prolonged prongs boost the feeling of being beamed right into the Age of Aquarius, everything is perfectly placid, calm, tranquilizing. Drifting ever closer to the Cologne sound à la Kompakt Records, In Return’s warmhearted phantasmagoria feels ecclesiastic and embracing, with the adjacent buzzes and sizzles carefully silkened and streamlined in order to fit with the auroral luminosity. The duality of fogginess and clarity does never clash, let alone feel forced. The hybrid state allows S ND Y  P RL RS to augment the languorous mellifluousness. The press text describes it as “ethereal and gloomy, and somehow almost frightening.” I can only relate to the first adjective. This is not to say that Malte Cornelius Jantzen has not hidden a looming daedal force, but I cannot find it, no matter how hard I try. This Drone cloud simply clicks. It swallows, bolsters and encapsulates the listener in a place of shelter; no strings attached but the strings of the heavily processed guitar.


The first self-released split tape by the duo of NADA and the singular mind of S ND Y  P RL RS is a disturbing piece if the listening subject allows the overarching topic to penetrate the brain. Each composition covers a specific niche: NADA’s Spirit Cave Dweller is the brazen brute which reveals its melodramatic glory and good-natured catchiness transparently and throughout most of its runtime, but appears much more frightening and aggressive due to its metallic surface, the breakneck pace of the drums and last but not least the power voltage of each chord which cuts through everything; it is a toothless tiger, if you will, but a proud beast nevertheless. S ND Y  P RL RS’ In Return is the astutely named reaction to the no-compromise approach and surprises with dreamy cushions of elysian ethereality, a solemn complexion and filtered guitars in tandem with synths. Jantzen’s album Rex is dry as a bone and solid as a brick wall, but In Return is named exactly right in this regard and offers a strangely aquatic-diffuse Drone landscape whose accessibility is still ennobled by slight mood shifts and glowing protuberances. This is not what I have expected at all. But I like what I hear very much. That both tracks are glued to each other via one physical object in the shape of a tape which features the picture of Virginia Woolf – of all people! – is a bewildering, uneasy fact. But it is probably the only rightful approach to tie such diverse embodiments together. 50 tapes wait to be yours. Alternatively, just fetch one. 



Further listening:

You can listen to In Return at Bandcamp and buy the tape at Anost.



Ambient Review 241: NADA & S ND Y  P RL RS – Split Tape (2013). Originally published on Jul. 17, 2013 at