Review: Nomine – Path ​/ ​Peace ​/ ​Lost ​/ ​Mantra [NS001]

Few DJs can claim they have been in the game for more than 20 years. Even fewer, then, are those who have done so, yet still feel like their career is about to make a fresh start. Nomine is one such artist: having been involved in the drum & bass scene since ’95 under the name of Outrage, Andrew Ferguson now stands at the forefront of the dubstep scene, after a handful of releases showcasing his own take on the genre – that of an artist daring to push it past its own frontiers. And while he’s no newcomer in that scene anymore, introducing this new alias back in 2012, it still feels like Nomine is at a new departure point. Fresh off the release of his debut album, “Inside Nomine” and the album launch tour that ensued, seeing him play in London, Glasgow, Paris and Bratislava, Nomine recently announced that he was to launch his own label, “Nomine Sound” with a first four-tracker from himself to kick things off.

If NS001 is a hint on what to expect from the label, then it certainly looks promising. In the length of four tracks, Nomine manages to pursue the sound he’s established with his previous releases, while glancing towards other directions. Opener “Nomine’s Path” is a nod to his album, as it takes on the same zen themes and samples as “Blind Man”, one of the LP’s highlights. “Nomine’s Path” doesn’t have the more appeased atmosphere of the latter track, though: after a similar threatening introduction, “Nomine’s Path” gives way to pounding, circular drums, as well as a creeping bassline sneaking its way through the mix.

Rather than simply following that path on the rest of the EP, the three remaining tracks confront expectations, chasing the same atmosphere through the use of different sounds and tempos. “Peace Please”, for instance, is much slower than its predecessor, and features iustina’s evanescent vocals floating throughout. Added guitar tones courtesy of X=X help complete a track that is both hypnotic and haunting. The BPM counter switches once more for “Lost Girl”, on which iustina returns with the same effect, as Nomine draws successfully for the same contrast between apparent peace and contemplative patterns that suggest menace. These troubled feelings become daunting on “Nomine’s Mantra”, which closes the EP with narcotic drums and a prayer that is looped until it becomes ominous.

NS001 is an impressive listen: it showcases a producer who sounds confident in what he is doing, but isn’t afraid to reach for new sounds. Nomine is able to develop that specific atmosphere of his own through different tempos and narratives, resulting in an EP that feels like a 16-minute time bubble of this sound, and lays the groundwork for promising future releases, with different threads that these may, or not, follow. It is an understatement to say that we are really looking forward to hear NS002, whoever produces it.

NS001 is released April 29th and available from the Nomine Bandcamp Store, Unearthed Sounds, Redeye, White Peach and Intense Records.

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