Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Album Review: Zephyr Nova - "Shatterscapes"

Some of you may remember my not-so-raving review of Cthulhu Detonator's latest album, Infernal Machines. Turns out, the man behind Cthulhu Detonator, Eric Hogg runs a couple other projects as well. He dishes out some experimental electronic music under the name Zephyr Nova, and some acoustic folk rock under the moniker of Solipsis. Today we'll take a look at the former's latest album, Shatterscapes.

I realize that saying Zephyr Nova plays "experimental electronic" music is probably the least descriptive label, but Shatterscapes is a tough album to label, genre wise. The experimental bit comes in probably with the liberal use of glitch-beats and odd instruments/ sounds, but none of the experimental flare gets in the way of the actual music being presented. Zephyr Nova's experimentation gives the music a quirky personality. It isn't noise for the sake of noise. Songs vary in intensity both throughout their own running time and through the album as a whole. From the heavier opening track, "Searching for Signals" to the hazy, almost sleep inducing duo of "Sandman Prelude" and "The City Sleeps".

I personally enjoy the mellower tracks on this album, because I feel like they create a more enveloping atmosphere. Taking "The City Sleeps" for example, the song has what sounds like a car's windshield wipers going off. This mixed with the song's lead keyboards and laid back bass (as well as the rest of the rhythm and backing) paint the picture of a lone person, you, driving their car through some city streets which are chalked full of skyscrapers. It's raining kind of heavily and the streets are empty. The only light comes from the street lamps, your headlights, and the odd building lobby.  It's just you, your car and the city. You`re left to your own thoughts and you can just hang out in your own head for a couple minutes. Definitely the most beautiful song on the album, bar none.

Shatterscapes is one of those albums where, no matter how intense a song may get, they still seem to float around you like a thick fog. Things get really trippy when you start noticing things that sound like guns cocking, doors creaking, or thunder going off in the distance throughout the songs. Mix these unconventional sounds with some low, eerie bass like in the song "Cocoon", and you've got yourself a song with one hell of an immersive atmosphere. Coming back to the "thick fog" analogy from before, most of the songs are presented with a fragile, but haunting melody which dances over top of the rest of the music.

There's not much I can discredit Shatterscapes with. Production is handled beautifully, the album doesn't run on for too long, and none of the songs sound stagnant or boring. As I said earlier, the experimentation is handled with taste and tact, and doesn't come across as pretentious or in your face.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: June Bug, The City Sleeps, Why Let Go

On a Playlist With: Ratatat, Sigur Ros, (later) Earth

Overall Score


Zephyr Nova has put together a great album to toss on with a good pair of headphones and lose yourself to. Since I'm not the most well versed in electronic music (especially experimental electronic), I seem to attribute Shatterscapes heavily with the more ambient and less intense post rock. This album definitely has tons of replayability, because every time you toss it on, you notice something new. I'm excited to see what Zephyr Nova will put out next, and where he'll go from here.

Shatterscapes is out on eViVE Records and can be previewed and purchased here.

That's all for now, folks!


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