February 12, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: The Nocturne Project - Awakening (2013)

The Nocturne Project puts out its first proper release titled Awakening under Maryana Records in early January 2013, a little over two years after releasing its miniature album Opus 1. Being grounded in the post-rock mold, TNP thrives on creating compelling sonic art filled with rudiments of abstraction spotlit by the absence of words.

For the uninitiated, The Nocturne Project was started in 2008 by Ivan Ferrero. It is one of those few local outfits that perfectly blend ambient, electronics, acoustic instruments, and field recordings to deliver a fresh and unique sound that doesn’t get heard quite a lot in these shores. Incidentally, the band belongs to the Buwan-Buwan Collective, a group of young musicians who draws inspiration from the concept of the traditional Filipino game it was named after for their creative exchanges.

Awakening contains a total of 10 tracks, each one clocking in anywhere between over three to a little fewer than seven minutes. While the befitting title pretty much sums up the kind of trip a listener is in for, it is something that requires a close listen and a good-old serious introspection (as with any other post-rock, ambient-leaning album). It opens up with the gorgeous track titled “First Dream Called Fly,” which starts with a lilting melody that slowly crescendos into a piano driven overture and ends in sweeping, tingling patterns that quickly brings one in a pensive mood.

What follows is the equally engaging title track which sounds like a musical score for a Sundance-bound road movie. And by the third track, you’ll start wondering where it will all lead to; the only earmark being the cohesive rises and falls fantastically – with neither of them climaxing nor falling flat. The unexpected changes in the sound are of the physical and metaphysical kinds – so meditative, so ambivalent, and so sentimentalized that you’d feel as if you’re actually gazing into your own life’s journey.

Tracks six and seven in particular are worth noting. “Will Hunting,” which features a lengthy sample from the movie Good Will Hunting, is a gem that can stand on its own even without the spoken-word parts. However, it wouldn’t be more perfect if it hadn’t successfully encapsulate the flooring exchange between therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) and the genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon) about really living life instead of just using one’s intellect as a defense mechanism.

Equally luscious is the track that follows right after, titled “Scenes from Childhood.” According to the band’s Facebook page, it was inspired by Kinderszenen, an opus written by Robert Schumann in the 1800s for piano whose manuscripts have been known to be incomplete. As described, the piece was created as a tribute to the frailty and nostalgia of one’s childhood as seen from an adult perspective. If the words childlike profundity had a sound, it would be this.

In the ninth track, “Sirens,” you’ll suddenly get pulled into a heavier, less organic roundelay that’s surprisingly gritty and angsty to the core (and seems a bit more commercial).

At the onset, the final track “We Left Our Homes” leaves a subdued and soothing impression. In some moments, you’ll feel like you’re being guided by some serene invisible entity out of a dark maze. Around three minutes into the song, everything builds up to pave way to plenty of rounded tones and the track immediately transforms into an interesting multi-layered ripple that almost sounds like a cadence march. Once you get past this part, the music dissipates without any indication and leaves you wanting for more.

Like slow-brewing coffee through a narrow paper filter or green tea leaves steeping in a handcrafted porcelain cup, most of the tracks from Awakening require thorough, self-paced listening in order to be appreciated. From beginning to end, it somewhat sounds like a journey about rising from the doldrums; something that will give you the feeling akin to leaving home and returning after some time with an altered perspective and a fresher, more positive approach to life.

It is hard to draw out similarities and differences with each song, especially for the instrumentally inept or naturally tone deaf. But if you appreciate masterfully crafted wordless music that treads and glides to create a gorgeous and sprawling narrative, then Awakening from The Nocturne Project presents plenty of sound possibilities that are perhaps up your alley.  A-   B  
via Klaris Chua

3 comments:

  1. Ivan was my roommate while studying in Manila and I am impressed of this band. Great review for them and glad they are taking the music scene another mile higher.

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  2. Pure Greatness! <3

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