Nothing But Noise
Almost ten years ago we spoke with the legendary Daniel B about Nothing But Noise, his then-new collaboration with Dirk Bergen and Erwin Jadot (the latter having left shortly thereafter). Amongst plenty of other insights, Daniel discussed the idea of trying to push the groundbreaking work of Klaus Schulze and his peers forward, of trying to elaborate upon kosmische synth without treating it as nostalgia. With 242 having resumed live activity in the interim it’s perhaps been easy to let Nothing But Noise slip from our minds, but the project has carried on stridently with its mission, with a pair of releases from earlier this year now receiving a mammoth unified release.
The numeric titling of the tracks on Aeon 1-9 might suggest a homogenized unity between each, but the more time is spent with the pieces, both in isolation and in sequence, the more complex the picture becomes. Sure, there are certain commonalities between compositions – the repeated use of some very lush yet tense string sections lends an almost In The Nursery-like sense of the cinematic – but each carries its own sense of development and resolution, and perhaps more importantly its own internal structure. There’s never anything rote or predictable about how these pieces grow, shrink, or mutate. “Cycles 7” swiftly shifts between a series of movements, some martial, some ethereal, while “Cycle 3” slowly revolves around the same refrains and rhythms, growing more baroque and ornate with each orbit but never cleanly breaking from its origins.
This brings up a key point which we indirectly alluded to while writing about the project’s debut record: Nothing But Noise is not an ambient project in the traditional sense of the word. Sure, one might have a lovely evening partaking of a preferred substance and just letting Aeon 1-9 carry you away, but there’s far more to it than a traditional trip record. From the lively and chilling plucks and pads which open “Cycles 1” to the uncanny Glass-goes-glitch phrasing of “Cycles 8”, the record pays off close, attentive listening in spades.
And ultimately, it’s the variety, timbre, and sheer pleasure of sound Nothing But Noise convey which makes up that reward. There’s a veritable treasure chest of pure sound design to be attended to here. Take the beads of sound that punctuate “Cycles 2” midway through the track – while beautiful, they feel wholly alien and untraceable. A human voice sampled and manipulated? Whalesong? Or just a hitherto unused synth patch? Either way, Nothing But Noise are just as adept at accentuating elements subtly once an arrangement’s been established as they are knowing when to overthrow said arrangement, as “Cycles 2” does just a minute later, with a squalling, clockwork grind suddenly arriving to carry the piece forward. That’s just one brief point of contrast in a two-plus hour document, but one which beautifully illustrates the project’s ongoing desire to push classic approaches to synthesis into new territory.