It’s long been a recurring “what if” of mine to hear Nadja with live drums at the rhythmic helm. This isn’t driven by a distaste for Aidan Baker’s programming – those lumbering doom beats and machine gun snares have beautifully propelled the atmosphere of all of those albums previous – but more out of sheer curiosity as to how the band’s distinctive flavour would be tweaked and transformed in the transposition. There’s something gorgeous sturdy and anchoring about those programmed drums that tether Nadja’s guitars as they shoot off in fizzing, astral plateau – would live drums be lost in amongst the implosion, too loose and fragile to rein the noise in again?
As Dagdrøm proves, most certainly not. Live percussion not an additional ingredient in the pre-mixed Nadja formula; rather, it partakes in the band’s glorious, somewhat organic overhaul. The album depicts a Nadja that judders through the rehearsal space as much as it populates vibrant, panoramic dreamstates – an outward energy exchange between several bodies instead of the inner journey of a solitary vision. Guitar strums suddenly sound somewhat cathartic, channelling not only a will to transcend and hypnotise but a will to “rock out” in the most instinctive way possible: with energy and volume pushed eternally skywards and the tips of fingers bleeding as they grate against the strings.
Jesus Lizard’s Mac McNeilly takes charge of the kit, with the band undoubtedly a key influential component of Dagdrøm (along with the likes of Big Black and Caspar Brotzmann Massaker). Indeed, the album presents Nadja’s sound in more of a “rock” context than ever before: groove is now fast enough to be felt, while song structures chop more abruptly between moments of quiet, climax, and even sections mildly resembling choruses. “Falling Out Of Your Head” is arguably the album’s finest hour, ascending warily from ticks of clean palm muting to a clattering, vicious crescendo of projectile drone missiles and pummelled crash cymbal: post-punk on a monolithic scale, encapsulating the eruption of both a planet and a human spirit simultaneously.