Review: Demen – Nektyr

KRANK209_10x10_300dpiNektyr is a solo record. Not only in the sense that Demen created it single-handedly (presumably anyway – contextual information on the album is sparse), but also for how it seems naïve to the fact that someone else might be listening in. I spend the album’s 35 minutes nurturing a leaden guilt, unable to shake the sense that Demen never invited me here. These songs are sad; privately and vulnerably so. The omnidirectional echo isn’t designed to push her sentiment outward. In fact, I question whether these songs are designed to be listened to at all. Instead, the reverberant murk offers a means of unravelling into space, dissolving form to embody pure feeling, melting down keyboards and voices into the liquid essence of misery and despondency. Internal burden is ejected, splayed against the walls, and channelled back inward to consume their creator. I can’t hear Demen’s fingers pressing against the keys. Instead, her melodies are clouds that form and reform, respiring between iterations of minor key, pregnant with the impotent patter of the drum machine.

That echo is moist, too – like the damp stone of unlit church basements, soaking some of the vibrations into the walls and discolouring those that are permitted to return. Some of her keyboards reconfigure into the spectre of hazy church bells or sunken glockenspiels; others become droplets leaking through a hole in the ceiling. Meanwhile, her voice is pure smoke: a wisp in upward chicane, readily consumed by the surrounding instrumentation, chasing itself like smoke rings emitted one after the other. I listen to “Illdrop” in the daylight – a wretched, staggering ballad of long drones and an almost operatic lead vocal line – and can’t help but feel like the sun is dimming. Demen indulges in chords of sudden optimism just to watch them wither and die, her voice arcing out of the ether only to sink back into it again. Like a candle in decay, the album’s outward projection is a mere by-product of an ultimately inward process; the echoes spread across the room and lap against my ears, while the very kernel of these songs melts into nothing, reduced to a mere ember in the twilight.