Music Reviews
In A Dim Light

Nedry In A Dim Light

(Monotreme Records) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

Are Nedry a band or a group of producers? When I think of the sort of beats/guitars crossover acts who have a lot in common with the group – Massive Attack, Stereolab, Air, The Knife, even back to Silver Apples, for instance – I personally divide nearly all of them one way or the other. Nedry, however, occupy an ambiguous space in between. In their live performances, expressive vocalist Ayu Okakita stands between Matt Parker and Chris Amblin, who control keys and laptops, all three members picking up guitars at different points. They get the best of both worlds: this music is necessarily performed, with the energy and synthesis only a live band can achieve, completely intertwined with the precision and definition of laptop-based electronic music.

Their music is an astoundingly natural fusion of post-rock and dubstep. I know that by pigeonholing those two genres so haphazardly I am understandably repulsing the music pedants among you but there you go, it’s a useful distinction. They are given to the wobbly, guttural basslines and icy drum machines of dancefloor-conscious beatcrafters, as well as the pedal-happy guitar work of soaring, propulsive rock music, the kind focused on mood over lyrics, as perfected by the likes of 65daysofstatic (who toured with Nedry a couple of years ago) and Mogwai. It could perhaps be interpreted as a fresh and futuristic revival of trip-hop, with all the moody beauty of the genre’s early-90s luminaries.

But probably the most remarkable thing about the group is Okakita’s vocals, as she lurches from delicate whisper to aggressive yowls; sometimes even on a single verse, as on the incendiary TMA. She stretches for the full capabilities of her voice, looping herself over on Havana Nights, and layering up a wall of her breathy sighs on Violaceae. The record sustains a dark and immersive mood, arguably, at times, at the expense of memorable songcraft – but at their finest moments, Nedry are capable of crafting catchy and emotive chord structures that allow the songs to transcend and progress. The opening two tracks form a particularly satisfying sequence, as the songs both begin placidly but brim with a sense of discontent: I Would Rather Explode spills over with minor-key discords, culminating in the frantic expulsion that ends Post Six.

A couple of tracks confidently sustain those murky urban atmospherics but, without developing much further, aren’t quite essential (such as here.now.here and Dusk Till Dawn); the finest moments on In A Dim Light are actually when the group pushes out of that comfort zone. It’s evidenced on closing track Home, a macrocosm of the whole record – the song morphs imperceptibly amongst deeply gorgeous, haunting passages of swirled downtempo, but the track really gets exciting when the drum machines skitter along faster, right up to the salvo that ends the record.

If their 2010 EP Condors showed Nedry still noticeably finding their feet, In A Dim Light is a full realisation of that potential, an original and fascinating record from three enviably talented musicians, who probably will not spend much longer being so inexplicably overlooked.