|4||The Running Flow|
|6||On a Treadmill|
As a long-time admirer of his work, R&S/Apollo boss Renaat has signed up Italian craftsman Nuel for a stunning concept album that finds the artist becoming "my own imaginary band" after ten years of personal growth and exploration.
Nuel has been revered in underground techno circles for many years. He is a meticulous sonic sculptor who has made some of the most meditative and hypnotic electronic grooves of the last decade on labels like Semantica, Kontra-Musik and Sublunar. He also put out cult classic and highly sought after album ‘Trance Mutation’, which found him playing all the sounds himself on a wide array of instruments.
It is that multidisciplinary ‘one-man-band’ approach he has taken again on ‘Fantasia’, which is the latest fruit of a lifelong personal quest to grow his skills, learn new techniques and go further than ever before in search of sound. "I wanted to master the art of production," he says, "so I began recording and mixing as wide a range of music as possible." As such, using guitars from his school days, bass from an ex-girlfriend, a Cajon from his uncle, and some newly acquired percussion, he set about experimenting and now serves up the beguiling results.
Opener 'Body Shock' is a beautifully poly-rhythmic affair that jostles with vitality - you can hear fingers moving up and down the bass guitar as it drives the track along. Dancing cymbals, an arpeggiated lead and the Peruvian Cajon all bring worldly character to this supple rhythm. The uptempo 'Guerrilla Habits' is irresistibly compelling with its busy acoustic lead guitar, psyched-out chords and subtle sci-fi effects all coming on like some futuristic folk rave. 'Pollyana' is again defined by Americana-style guitar playing, but run through with synth meditations and uneven loops that trap you in the moment.
'The Running Flow' keeps up this magical fusion of organic and synthetic sounds; of the played and the synthesized, and is always building towards a peak that fills you with rapture. 'Disincanto Road' is a darker, more introspective track, with heavier drum hits and more taught bass twangs that ride a rugged rhythm. It's a pause of the momentum before 'On a Treadmill' sets off on another fascinatingly unusual groove made from off-grid strings, riffs and drums that are in constant flux. 'Quiet' is a blissed-out and thoughtful closer with celestial acoustic guitar and lush sonic waves that ebb and flow and sinking you ever deeper into a state of calm.
‘Fantasia’ is physical, dance-able music but crafted from unfamiliar sound sources that make it as suited to a campfire gathering as an experimental club setting. It's expertly assembled and utterly unique.