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NIHITI - Sustained [Lo Bit Landscapes - 2022]

Nihiti is an experimental music project with sporadic releases dating back to 2009.  Earlier albums contained elements of rock, new wave and other more active genres, but this new recording, titled Sustained, is in many ways classic ambient, imitating the serene, resolved feeling of 80's synth classics like Steve Roach's  Structured From Silence and Quiet Music, and combining this with heavy FX processing like one might expect from a shoegaze band.

The texture and 'glowing light' feeling of the 21-minute opener "Stellar Observer" are simply ecstatic, and I wouldn't mind if it went on significantly longer than it does.  Drifting serenely from one long note to the next, we bask within a single chord for longer than 20 minutes at a time, light naturally flickering with the passing overhead cloud cover, illuminating different resonances within the harmony.    A relaxed, contented float with no destination in particular except perhaps sleep.

This rather sets up the expectation that the album will be a beautiful but uneventful new age disk, which does not quite turn out to be true, with the album striking bold contrasts as it continues.  The 2nd piece, "Tetrachrome", is significantly noisier, a vast womb of distortion with a sense of true massiveness behind its powerful resonating chord.  It is a blinding, obliterating light that cuts sharply whenever it has a sudden, violent surge of greater brightness.  If one had fallen asleep to previous track, this one would blast them awake.  It could be compared to noise/drone acts like AUN or some music of Sunn 0))).

Nihiti's sound sources are not Roach's expensive Oberheims.  The original sound is largely obfuscated and could as easily be a guitar as a synthesizer in certain moments.  There is evidently a long chain of effects pedals at play, imbueing the tone with fuzz and then filtering it to soften it again, thereafter painting in a thick sheen of celestial reverb and air.

The final track is the 12-minute "If the Color", returning in part to a vintage ambient palette with filtered analog saw waves.  It has a much eerier tone than the soothing opener, and a more loop-driven structure.  Its repetitious chords sketch a feeling of questioning, of waiting for someone to arrive.  This music isn't dissimilar in mood or sound to the soundtrack of the original Twin Peaks.

Nihiti's Sustained is a richly evocative ambient recording with three distinct movements.  The 1st and 3rd, in particular, are deep immersive spaces with rich chordal beauty.  The sound quality is perhaps overly saturated and abrasive for the contemplative qualities of the music, but this creates a sort of immediacy as well.  I debated whether I thought the aggressive noise of the 2nd piece truly belonged with the rest, and in the end I decided that it does, but certainly results in a less comfortable recording. To check out for yourself drop by here 

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

Josh Landry
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