Review: NOMON – Card II


Percussionists Shayna and Nava Dunkelman refer to their setup as “Rorschach-like”, in reference to those symmetrical inkblots used in psychological tests into emotion and character. I expect this describes the physical mirror-image arrangement of their instruments, but it also lends to the idea of percussion as conduit of the instincts. Even with a release so intricately composed as this – forever swerving into polyrhythms, finding nanosecond synchronicity, emphasising different notches time – NOMON feel physically present for their music and for eachother. Their collaborative symbiosis isn’t just a product of compositions that force them to interlock but a genuine alignment of player reflexes, creating a truly palindromic sympathy. To say that Shanya and Nava are “responding” to eachother implies a flow too linear; a lag even. The energy on Card II is simultaneous, outward, inward, always.

Synthesisers provide a light intermediary adhesive here, splashing off the drums and cymbals, adding colour without obfuscating the natural resonances of the acoustic setup. The duo hang from these hooks and recontextualise them: charging into double-time, adding/subtracting new syncopations, snagging upon catchy refrains, pulling in references to dubstep and obliterated club music. Opener “Kaede” flits between sparse constellations of cymbal and gallivanting 4/4 over plains of drone, clearly relishing the tension and release; “Kirie” continually resets its marching band refrain and presents it anew, as if stating the same point repeatedly through various eccentric analogies. It’s all over in 20 minutes, although so rich is the detail here that one suspects a 40-minute record folded over itself.