Nsi. - A Day Or Two


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Release Date
April 24, 2024
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Japan’s exceptional NAKID label follows up AOTY-worthy records from goat (JP) and KAKUHAN with a total curveball, the first album in years from Max Loderbauer (Sun Electric) and Tobias Freund’s cult Non Standard Institute. Delving deep into the aether with a double LP - almost an hour and a half in length - featuring ruined, vaporous and engrossing ambient variations on a theme, it comes highly recommended if yr into Selected Ambient Works Vol II, Chained Library, Jan Jelinek, or TCF’s generative works. Planing axes between iridescent new age ambient, sublime folk and avant-classical, to miasmic drone and plangent shoegaze; ‘A Day or Two’ charts the Non Standard Institute’s first actions in 6 years and serves as a compelling reminder of their intuitive work in abundance. Expanding and contracting their sound across 18 parts, they arc from heaving, oddly-tuned drones to smoggy, surreal soundscapes, bringing a wealth of fine-tuned instincts to the table. With Max Loderbauer’s 35+ years as Berlin ambient pioneer with Sun Electric, jams with Villalobos, and roles in Vladislav Delay Quintet and the Moritz von Oswald Trio, he’s matched by Freund’s 40 years of deep engineering expertise embedded in the experimental industrial and techno trenches. The melancholy, Satie-laced piano meditations that grounded 2018's '5863' are gone, and the human touch that's been present since their very first collaborations is placed under the microscope, enhanced by their use of the Haken Continuum Fingerboard, a gestural synth that was developed to open up new modes of playing. Loderbauer's experience with the piano helps him make the most of the instrument's touch-sensitive 3D surface, while Freund uses two multi-channel loopers, piping the sounds through his arsenal of pedals. The 18 tracks are billed as "unplanned atmospheres" that arc from sombre, drone-heavy material to humid, tape-saturated imaginary-island jams such as 'Listening To Cells' and 'Are You One Of Them'. On the latter, the duo work patiently, letting dusted string plucks tumble across each other while warbling pads hum below, bending like flutes. On 'Unlikely Events', anxious didgeridoo-like wails are ruptured by environmental rattles, before ominous voices lead us into a pocket of industrialised resonance. In time, the skies open up and the sounds morph into pastoral song, the drone blurring into hopeful pads almost as lucid and eloquent as AFX's 'SAW Vol. II', with sonorous synths that float over formless strings. Reflective, cinematic arrangements for flute and silvery ambient give way to diffusions of denser, resonant polychromatics and pucker up in outernational, alien ambient impulses recalling Connor Camburn jamming with dirashe folk pipes. A very special album to get lost in, coming to us from one of the buy-on-sight labels of our time.