ALBUM REVIEW: Nathalie Stern – Nerves & Skin | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Inverted Grim Mill/Cruel Nature

Released: 17.11.19

 

 

 

 

Nerves & Skin is replete with sinister drone for a 21st century witch trial of dark folk and sweeping gothic breathiness. It reverberates in an endless cathedral to horror and pulsing angelic nightmares that chorally soar into the heights of harmonic beauty whilst a blackened chain link holds you in ethereal limbo, at one with the synth buzz.

This is Nathalie Stern’s long awaited follow-up to Firetales, which was released almost 10 years ago, and on initial listen is a very different affair with its intimate vocal loops and strong Scandinavian folk influence. This new album is cavernous in comparison; its opening track begins with a dying breath for all that went before, then throbs with a rich droning bass synth and echoing vocals backed up by local artists Lindsay Duncanson and Marek ‘Maz’ Gabrysch.

Maintaining a folk input in its structure throughout, the album becomes a Wicker Man-like soundtrack for modernity. Stand out track is Stig In Lucia begins with some beautiful layered traditional sounding folk lyrics and ends with a full-on synth possession that wouldn’t be out of place in the Exorcist.

Nathalie fits perfectly into the long burgeoning scene for gothic folk and hauntological synth music as manifested on labels like Ghost Box or A Year In The Country; she evokes a sense of our deeper cultural memory, of shadows in the woods and of feelings long supressed or purposely hidden. It’s truly a modern folk tale with consummate sinister undertones to scare you into behaving properly lest the witch gets you. A strong sophomore release that shows maturity and an understanding of theme and tradition, and I’m hoping it doesn’t take as long to get a third instalment from this intriguing North East-based talent.

 

 

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