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Aaron Turner & Daniel Menche, "Nox"

cover imageWhile the gargantuan, triple disc Sleeper from Daniel Menche is still relatively new, he and SIGE head Aaron Turner (he of an immense number of projects) also managed to find the time to record this collaborative LP. Recorded over a two year span, Nox is far more inviting and downright beautiful than I would have expected from two artists who have always shown hints of the sort in the past.


Menche and Turner have collaborated before, such as on 2015’s Crater (with the latter as Mamiffer, a project that also features Faith Coloccia), but Nox has a different feel to it by comparison.This is a single half-hour piece split across two sides of vinyl. There is a calmness to the album that is quite striking, something both artists are not necessarily a stranger to, but would hardly be the first adjective I think of to describe their respective bodies of work.

The opening moments are that of a droning, chanting voice (or voice-like sound) processed, stretched, and sustained.More ambiguous layers of sound are added: long, gliding sheets of sound that are quite gentle on their own, but are still imbued with a bit of darkness to them.The layers pass over each other exquisitely, sustaining the sense of peacefulness but also giving the piece far more depth than just a simple ambient workout.Occasionally some tastefully abrasive guitar squall cuts through the mix to darken things up a bit, but on the whole it remains serene and pleasant throughout.As the composition builds, Turner and Menche interweave more airy, voice-like passages within some churning, noisier segments as well, blending the light and dark expertly (a recurring theme in both of their individual discographies).Melodies arise out of the soft, droning sounds, and are nicely contrasted by less specific, textural layers that give a nice tactile crunch to the otherwise buoyant, drifting elements of the album.

From within the pensive moments, the dissonant guitar reappears once again, as do some largely untreated vocals from Turner, which take on the more ethereal qualities he has utilized with Jodis.While I would not necessarily characterize his voice as delicate, there is a light quality that certainly benefits the album.At times the layering and effects make for an almost operatic tone, with just the right amount of drama and blissful mood, but mixed with a churning, menacing bit of noise.The inhuman half of this pairing eventually engulfs the entire piece, collapsing it onto itself and then drifting slowly into emptiness and dissonance.

Nox, compared to the bulk of Aaron Turner and Daniel Menche's solo work, clearly emphasizes the often-obscured subtleties of their art, as well as the unabashed beauty that is less renowned than their more aggressive tendencies. The piece runs the full gamut of both artists' diverse discographies, drawing different elements but joining them in a way that showcases the complexity of both.Nox is a quite stunning record, one that bears the mark of both Menche and Turner, but one that focuses on the lesser recognized, but just as powerful side of their art.