Review: Marc Broude – NREM

NREM often feels like the amplification of sound that would otherwise be inaudible to the naked ear. Its intricate detail, and the blanket of interference that sometimes obscures it, makes it seem as though it’s exploring micro-processes, or the inaudible sound of dormant spaces – even during its most violent and dissonant eruptions, Broude’s sounds still feel like the tiniest of vibrations that must be sonically magnified in order to be brought into audibility.

Much of the album consists of gentle gestures and background activity, barely brash enough to even cause slight jumps in the waveform. It is here that Broude plays “capturer” and not “composer” (or at least creates the illusion of this), delicately applying distant rustles of movement, whispered voices and ominous low-intensity winds. The sound is suggestive to its sources, but kept alien enough to allow for the listener imagination to do most of the work; meanwhile, the lo-fi crackles and pops that smatter the recording provoke a sense of recording in secret, creating an underlying panic as the listener begins to feel like an intrusive presence caught within most threatening surroundings.

Nowhere is this feeling more prominent than on the 38 minutes of “Rites of Death”. Whereas the shorter pieces feel more akin to observations of audio, the album finale is an absolute immersion in landscape, leaving the listener stranded within a thick and obscuring night time fog. Gradually, the listening process becomes hypersensitive to the track’s various micro-details; by the time the track reaches its climax, the mutative powers of paranoia and repetition has turned the piece’s soft whispered breaths into the muttered curses of phantoms, while a haunted melody begins to materialise from within the ever-present gusts of wind.