Skin Turns to Glass

Prolific is a word that’s often used to describe the Toronto-based experi-metal duo Nadja, as they’ve released over a dozen recordings in the past two years. How many of them are worth a listen is another story, but Aidan Baker (guitars, vocals, woodwinds, drum machines) and Leah Buckareff (bass, vocals) dip into their past on Skin Turns to Glass. Re-recording and re-issuing this 2003 CD-R (originally released by Belgium’s NOTHingness REcords) with a 28-minute bonus track, Nadja now lengthen the album to just shy of 80 minutes—the full capacity of a traditional CD—and it clearly appeals to fans of tepid noise and drone.

“Sandskin” simultaneously lifts and crushes for the first 14 minutes of the album, and the majestic fuzz of the guitars approaches but does not suffocate like Sunn0))). The electro-ambience that starts the cut burns off after three minutes, as the doomy drum machine keeps the pace moving tortoise-like through various chord progressions. The title track stays the course with slower, Jesu-like movements and Baker’s understated death vocals. The synth-like sounds buried in the mix sound a bit like Time-era Electric Light Orchestra, though it takes a trained ear to sift through the layers of noise to reveal the aural gems within.

The tonal quality of the faster “Slow Loss” sounds almost gothic, and these chords fade out over the course of almost ten minutes before erupting in searing guitar fuzz, which reaches its dénouement several minutes later. The bonus track is mostly cool-down ambience, ebbing and pulsing with mechanical energy. At the 20-minute mark, a stark guitar begins to build up over the next six minutes, before an impenetrable wall of death metal rises to end the album. Though the compositions feature enjoyable elements, Skin Turns to Glass is best swallowed in small doses.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Ayers
April 27th, 2008


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