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Nihiti - For Ostland [Lo Bit Landscapes - 2012]

Oh jeez, another "mysterious" band. I dunno, I guess it's interesting that someone can stay anonymous in this day and age, but c'mon. Whatever. I do know, though, that Nihiti is from New York and this is their second LP. Without further ado...

For Ostland is an interesting mixture of short ambient pieces, electronic dance, light industrial, and shoegaze. The eleven songs share some similar elements, but they don't really work together to create a complete album. Each song exists on its own, and it makes for a very interesting listen. The opener, "Siobhan's Song For Jakob," is probably the most "upbeat" song on the album. Soft, pulsey, phased synths loop to form a backbone for drifting swells and panning crunch. The higher notes come to the front and set the listener up for a misleading journey. Compare this to "Joining The Fire" and the moving, bell like low drone, that plays host to highs that appear out of nowhere and rise up before vanishing only to be reborn again. It's like a synaesthetic reaction to watching fire.

While others may feel that vocals spoil Nihiti's "mystery," the tracks with vocals are two of my favorites on the album. "Ghosts and Lovers" starts with a soft bass drum and quiet, almost British sounding vocals. I got a Depeche Mode vibe from 'em. Guitars come in and they're rife with effects. There's a definite shoegaze feeling here, and the thickness of the guitar is only added to by the slow, low, haunting vocals. The other, "Sun Shatterer," is based on a catchy guitar riff. An ordinary, slow, techno beat comes in along with a fuzzy guitar. The vocals are really goth/new wave. The song reminds me a bit of Cold Cave, but instead of the synths, the guitars take this song in a noisier direction. There is lots of fuzz and tremolo.

The 4-5 combo on For Ostland may be the best back to back songs on the album. The loop in "Ankhmazes" consists of a swell that grows into a bell like pulse. There are sampled gasps here and there, too. But, the kicker is the hummed drone vocal that is very reminiscent of Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man." Quality. This is followed up by "Eisenbahnstrasse, January 1st 1946." Here, a longing guitar plays over looped synth swells. Wistful highs from a second guitar join in along with some chimes. It's a thoughtful piece that can effectively place the listener to a war torn Berlin street.

I may not know much about Nihiti, but I know that I enjoyed For Ostland enough to check out the rest of their catalog. Also, I know that their output will never convince me to buy into their "mysterious" schtick, but I'm cool with just having good tunes to listen to.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Paul Casey
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