Nahja Mora - The Trees See More
The first time I heard Nahja Mora was a live show in which they opened for Jihad (RAS DVA Records) in downtown Baltimore. As Nahja Mora took the stage, I wasn't sure what to expect. Beyond the projection screen and the wolf masks emerged a powerful sonic wave of musical terror. Heavy thrashing beats penetrated the dimly lit club as frontman Josef's distortion infused vocals gnawed vigorously at any preconceived notions one may have had prior. As the band progressed through their set, the crowd was injected with a heavy dose of Phantasm samples (a tribute to the recent passing of Angus Scrimm) and screen projections. Nahja Mora ended the set with a cover of 'We Bite' by the Misfits. There are bands that kill it live all the time, but the studio material lacks the intensity the artists are able to conjure in a live environment. Nahja Mora did kill it live, so let's check out The Trees See More studio album! The pinnacle aspect of this release is that it is kind of all over the place musically. This could be a curse as well as a blessing. If a band has a great sound and stays consistent throughout the album it can be a good thing. Sometimes artists stray around in different realms of sound design and that can turn some would be fans off. And then there are fans that don't give a shit about certain consistencies in a release. They thrive off the diversity within the creativity of the artist no matter what manifests from this said creativity. This really sums up what the mighty Balts Nahja Mora do on their new album titled The Trees See More. It's a dark ride into the crossroads of electro-industrial and dissonant sounds with significant attention placed on every detail from sampling and vocals to programming and visuals.
The Trees See More starts off with expectations I had from the live show. Compositions sculpted with intense hammering beats set to heavily distorted vocals laced with deep yet arcane themes that unveil an aura of mystery and intrigue into the influences lyrically and artistically. That sonic wave I mentioned is captured so eloquently on 'Removal' and 'Inside Out'. The dominant vocals on these tracks take a page (just one not all) from Suicide Commando (circa 1998-2000) . Musically however it's a different realm as the tentacles of Nahja Mora's intricate programming for each track extend their grip and draw attention not only to the vocals but also the carefully created layers of the tracks. The clever arrangements will certainly garner appreciation from those willing to really listen. Every piece comes together to better the whole.
Keeping pace with the supercharged adrenaline accelerators 'Removal' and 'Inside Out' is 'Destructor'. The pounding that takes place as the track opens, just sounds completely malevolent as if the song is synced with a bludgeoning beat down like that scene in Snowpiercer as the rebels move through the train and engage in a bloody violent battle with the security forces armed with axes and hammers. With hints of late 80's Skinny Puppy 'Destructor' is another testament to the heavier side of Nahja Mora's bestial sounds.
I found myself heavily drawn to the more experimental industrial sounds found in 'God' and even more so in the tantalizing 'The Very Last Of Summer', 'Dream Dead' and the bombastic 'Tomorrow'. This is exactly the reason one should always explore all an album has to offer. These tracks demonstrate the diversity in influence and the ability to make it all work. Sometimes ideas don't translate well from the mind to the eventual completed track. 'The Very Last Of Summer' is my top pick for best track on the CD. All of the harsh abusive sounds have been harnessed, tamed and morphed into a blissful instrumental journey into a place we can go but never fully understand as Nahja Mora prefers to leave it up to the listener on where they are transporting us during the song.
'Losing Teeth', 'Bee Venom' and 'If They Do Not Lie, They Do Not Live' are all remixes with the originals appearing on the band's debut cassette Actualiser. Losing Teeth' gets a nice tweak by I Parasite of On This Cold Floor Fame. Leave it to Hobart from Precision Field to remix a very dark track 'God' and make it even darker and scarier than the twisted original. I still have unnerving thoughts from his terrifying track 'Coronation' off the Close Your Eyes EP that we reviewed late last year. Fun Never Starts returns to remix 'Bee Venom' adding a little of their signature noise to the mix. Fun Never Starts is fronted by Jenny Rae and she infuses her music with aspects funk, punk, electro, EBM etc. She also finds time to shred the bass as a member of Nahja Mora.
'If They Do Not Lie, They Do Not Live' is a pretty mellow tune. This remix is done by Shawn Brice and features a vocal piece by Maria Azevedo of Battery. I really like this version a lot as the soothing vocals add another element not present on the original. Each remix offers variations with the remixers' signature embedded into the DNA of the track. I would highly recommend checking out Precision Field, Fun Never Starts, Battery and I Parasite to dive deeper into what connects all these artists to each other and beyond.
The fastidious nature of Nahja Mora's artwork and layout of the CD comes from the team of S. Stadelmyer, Hemlock, Shane Gardner and Josef Saint. They combine their talents to stimulate your thirst for quality not only in the music but in the art as well. S. Stadelmyer's cover illustration depicts trees with a black and white pencil sketching. The inlay showcases track titles and credits with an a somewhat abstract backing photo. The most eye-catching piece is the moth painting by Hemlock adorning the CD. Besides painting bad ass moths, Hemlock is also a member of Nahja Mora playing the keyboards, drums and samplers. In addition to the packaging some stickers and a button are also included. Every aspect of the art and music has it's harmony in the overall big picture message Nahja Mora wants to push to the listeners. This same scrupulous characteristic is applied to the cassette release Actualiser with spiderweb plastic bag to the blood red cassette.
This is not canned or finessed programming laced around generic dance beats. The confusing and incongruous foundation of the music is its best feature. Najha Mora do not seem interested in extending themselves to a wider audience hence the absolute genre drifting nature of the songs that thrust beyond electro industrial into further regions of experimental and abstract soundscapes.
With a new album looming in the not so distant future the principal song writer/producer and founder of Nahja Mora Josef Saint looks forward to a more collaborative approach to the band with Hemlock and Jenny playing larger roles adding to the next chapter in Nahja Mora's evolution.Apr 11 2017
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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