Review – No Dakota – New Bronze Age

No Dakota’s debut LP ‘New Bronze Age’ is, essentially a post-rock ‘concept album’, musing on the nature of AI and human identity, it takes us on an imagined journey through time as Talos, the original automaton, mutates and reinvents. Drawing from diverse sources – the Colossus of Rhodes, ‘Hel’, the robot in Metropolis, and eventually in to the future android world of Blade Runner and Ex Machina – the album draws on both instrumental and elliptical lyrical narratives. Dark, cerebral, cinematic, immersive and surprising.

The project was conceived during lockdown 2020 by soundtrack composer noh1 / George Taylor (fratelli brothers, Dutch Head, The Ting Tings) and drummer / multi-instrumentalist Martyn Barker (Shriekback, Goldfrapp, Will Gregory, Adrian Utley, Alain Bashung) with guitarist Jez Coad (producer Simple Minds, Lost Boy, Surfing Brides) and guest appearances from Vienna’s Mira Lu Kovacs (Schmieds Puls 5K HD) and Berlin-based thereminist and vocalist Dorit Chrysler (Trentmoller).

If you like your music with more than little mystery and so far from the mainstream that it could be in another dimension then this release is really going to appeal to you. If you follow this music blog then you know the vast majority of the music I like and write about is progressive rock and folk with some hard rock thrown in just for the hell of it. However I really like music that is intriguing and asks questions of the listener and, while not melodic in the traditional sense, the notes all go together in a designated order to deliver something that you can really enjoy. ‘New Bronze Age’ fits that brief perfectly, it’s absorbing, beguiling and very, very puzzling in equal measure.

Opener Anima is electronic, pulsating and thought provoking in equal measure with more than a hint of Krautrock, mixed with a large dose of cinematic ambience. Cima brings some stylish EDM into the mix with a drumbeat straight from the canon of Prodigy (if not quite as mad!). It’s a real uplifting, high energy track with a subtle sci-fi vibe that gives it a really cool feel. The enigmatic shoe gaze/trip hop of Hel is so hip it hurts, the laid back, mellow vocals are perfectly judged and the whole song is as wistful and chilled as they come. Ichor has the feel of 60’s experimental psychedelia where you could literally get away with anything you tried and call it music and people would believe you. It’s creepy as hell, in a darkly delicious kind of way and really makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

Title track New Bronze Age is hyperactive and on edge, like a Cardiacs track that’s been given a huge dose of paranoia and psychedelia and, you know what, it’s utterly addictive and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s the energetic staccato guitar or the hypnotic beat? whatever, you just have to listen to this song! Poseidon is just a captivating piece of music, a sparse, mournful piano plays over an irregular beat while a haunting note repeats in the background. It’s like a modern, cinematic composition, almost classical in feel and has layers of comprehension that are gently peeled away. Re-Turn/Suspension Bridge is the big track on the album, over nine minutes of cleverly constructed music that builds with every note into something darkly primeval and daunting. The diversity of musical styles on show is breathtaking as this brilliant collective take us on a musical journey of majestic proportions that leaves you feeling subdued, as if in the presence of a greater being. The album closes with the pulsing, experimental wanderings of The Letter Z, a profound, echoing end to what has been an intense listening experience.

Music like ‘New Bronze Age’ teaches us to take the musical road less travelled, to stretch our mental boundaries and challenge what is said to be conventional. It is not an easy listening experience in places but it is a very rewarding album that gives a lot more than it takes. No Dakota write music that makes you think and music that is ultimately enjoyable, you just have to make the effort and, in my opinion, you really should!

Released 5th August, 2022.

Order from bandcamp here:

New Bronze Age | No Dakota (bandcamp.com)

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