Julian Cope’s Album of the Month

Nadja - Radiance of Shadows

Radiance of Shadows

AOTM #101, October 2008ce
Released 2007 on Alien8 Recordings
  1. Now I Am Become Death the Destroyer of Worlds (23.27)
  2. I Have Tasted the Fire Inside Your Mouth (27.26)
  3. Radiance of Shadows (28.59)

When ‘O Fortuna’ met ‘Wail of Sumer (And there will your heart be also)’

When RADIANCE OF SHADOWS appeared late last year, its stupendous existence was in opposition and total defiance of a floundering Doom Metal scene that was barfing up endless Khanate and Burning Witch re-runs like a dying cat coughing up hairballs behind the sofa. Instead, the highly prolific Nadja duo of Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff delivered, on this their umpteenth release, an even more spectacular and majestic and essential piece of work than any in their already packed five-year existence, shoe-horning into their noise three vast fall-of-empires soundscapes of eternal beauty, each close to a half-hour in length and each one sounding like a cross between the very end of every great Goth album (the dying embers of the Nefilim’s ELYZIUM springs immediately to mind), the very end of every great post-punk album (Joy Division’s CLOSER through an ‘Over the Wall’ filter, anyone?), simultaneously summoning up spectral armies of long dead ancestors AND drawing down the still-to-be-born future generations, intrigued by all the commotion being kicked up down here by this North American husband-and-wife duo. Brothers and sisters, regarding this RADIANCE OF SHADOWS album, I could simply wax lyrical for a coupla thousand words until the purple prose light came on my laptop and/or my stock of hyperbolic mythological metaphors ran out and I’d been forced to create some kind of fake Indo-European patois or even resort to employing a different alphabet to allude to this band’s otherness. I could even reach for the works of John Donne and Andrew Marvell and simply copy out a bunch of verses and say: “Here you go, it’s like a sonic version of that little lot”. However, this would be cheating. So I shall, instead, keep this review extremely short and state simply that RADIANCE OF SHADOWS contains some of the most shattering and emotionally exhausting music ever laid down, and that its incredible usefulness lies in the fact that – however tiring your day was – listening properly to music of such extraordinary intensity brings to their knees those listeners who are still standing upright, turns those who are seated into ritually slaughtered and slouching bogmen, and delivers those already recumbent straight to the Land of Nod. Employing this record as an early evening meditative device, I regularly wake around 3.30am totally disorientated and overwhelmed at the sheer volume of this music (however far down I turn the volume knob), by then probably on its seventh iTunes rotation. Whether or not Nadja can sustain this level of essential release is not my problem, because I’ve already got enough to last several lifetimes, thank you very much. However, as I was declaring the very same thing two or three releases ago, the appearance of RADIANCE OF SHADOWS is certainly evidence that Aidan and Leah’s work will only get better, whatever ‘better’ might mean in this marvellously uncontextualizable context. This music is so momentous that it could be the soundtrack to a movie about the whole Jewish nation fleeing Egypt, or the Turkish forced marches of their desperate victims during the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century, or future Moon landings, or even describe the cries of the Atlanteans 9,700 years ago as the comet impacted and forced their culture under the waves for that final time. Such new peaks have been reached by the sonic and emotional excess contained within the three epic pieces presented in this new Nadja album that each track is in severe danger of becoming a 21st century equivalent of Richard Strauss’s ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ or ‘O Fortuna’ from Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’; ubiquitous presences across whole swathes of contemporary media. Moreover, lazy film makers of the future who – instead of utilizing one of the three tracks from this new Nadja album – thoughtlessly employ extracts of the aforementioned for old time’s sake, will be severely rapped on the knuckles by the powers that be, thereafter to be sent off to isolation wards to meditate on their misdeeds.