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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Harold Nono
The Death of Barra
Rack and Ruin

Rating: 6.9/10 ?


July 15, 2008
About halfway through Harold Nono's previous release, To the River Lounge, it was obvious that the Edinburgh-based composer was a talented musician with a knack for producing wandering, and at times encapsulating, atmospheric music. The determined minimalist songwriter has followed up that strong but searching album with The Death of Barra, a more haunting and melancholy affair with a mood discernable from its dark title. The new EP contains four songs and stretches to just over eighteen minutes in length.

I mentioned in my review of To the River Lounge that Nono was still trying to find his particular sound, and although his music has certainly evolved between it and this most recent released, Nono's structures still seem to be searching for something. The album certainly contains some of the artist's darker, more obscure thoughts, and while the tracks appeal on many levels, many of them fail to develop into solid and free-standing works. Granted, there is a definite cohesion to most tracks, but none of them are truly overwhelming and it is this quality that also makes them a bit stale at times.

Of the four cuts on the EP, the one most successful is the second, titled "Little Reminders," which contains some of Nono's best work to date. Somewhat lighter than the other songs, this track seemingly whistles its way from beginning to outro, where it finally meshes with some tranquil, enjoyable percussion. The song is a prime example of the talent Nono has, and more integration of the composition's sounds on other tracks would have furthered their depth and quality.

Carried over from To the River Lounge is the full expectation that at least a few of The Death of Barra's tracks will be adopted for some type of theatre, film, or other visual performance soundtrack. Nono's emotionally-laden songs distinguish themselves nicely, and at times their tones portray vivid mental images. "Turnpike West," the final track of the series, conjures up images of driving on an endless deserted highway, headlights ablaze, with the monotony of white stripes passing underneath the dashboard.

One thing that The Death of Barra makes obvious about Nono is his extreme drive, as he often has multiple projects dancing at once. In addition to this EP, Nono just completed a work with Berlin musician/artist Me Raabenstein called Bedtime Stories, in which they recorded under the name Taub. The album is due to be released sometime in August, but one song, "Sparkle," is available now on Nono's Myspace page. Also, Nono is currently writing and recording with Japanese composer Hidekazu Wakabayashi, and the pair have a record release scheduled for later this year. Eventually the determination of Nono's creative spirit will, at the very least, create an impressive collection of music, one that we can hope will ultimately corral the loose sparks of his invention into a less wandering and more compelling whole, and at the same time stimulate more atmospheric artists to stretch the limits of their genre, if there are any.

Reviewed by Brian Christopher Jones
A student living in Scotland and working toward a PhD in law.

See other reviews by Brian Christopher Jones

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