Thursday, June 09, 2011
Nod : The Story Of The Three Little Pigs And The Big Bad Wolf
Once upon a time, many years ago, I created a music review blog. In the beginning, it was created as an assignment for a college class, but over time it expanded into something of a full-time hobby. While I have (arguably) written quite a few good reviews regarding many good albums, there were a few albums I reviewed of albums which were (arguably) not really good, and there were also a few bad reviews and/or opinions. Some (but not all, for better or worse) of these bad reviews were either edited later and/or revised completely. A few remain in need of trimming or deletion. However, one review, which I had not thought about for many years, until just recently, soon bothered me enough to do an extensive re-write. This is the story of the Music For The Rest Of Us review of Nod's debut (and to my knowledge only) full-length "The Story Of The Three Little Pigs And The Big Bad Wolf".
To be honest, looking over the original review was somewhat painful. After having discovered Nod's Reverbnation site, and listening to the majority of his work whilst reading the lyrics for the songs, I had discovered in a flash that I had greatly underestimated and marginalized this band. Clearly, I had not given this album or project a fair hearing, which made itself worse when one considers that, due to the somewhat obscure nature of Nod, the review itself was one of the top hits when doing a Google search. So, while this project may or may not still be active, hopefully this review will somehow rectify my past mistakes and convince others to check out this album and this band.
While information about the band is somewhat vague and cryptic, with conflicting information (their now-defunct 'official site' states that "Nod has existed since early 1996", while a more recent page states 1994), it is known for sure that it is mostly the work of Daniel Wihlstrand, with vocal assistance on many tracks by Elisabet Sundström. It is difficult to say whether or not the group really had consisted of "artists, painters and novelists as well as musicians" in the past, or whether this group is still active. Nevertheless, the text claims that "Nod is today a one-man-project and the musical goal is to crush all kind of music into pieces and then rebuild it into something extraordinary". In this regard, he is absolutely correct.
When looking over the lyrics, it instantly becomes clear that when they claim that "Nod was created and organized as a religious sect, worshipping (sic) art as our God", they weren't joking. Most of the songs are hallucinatory tales of metaphorically-rich symbolism regarding fairy tales, religion, mortality, and futility. While the music in "The Story Of..." follows this blueprint, it is perhaps a bit more focused than his earlier work, in that it uses the fable of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf as a conceptual framework. However, while a literal reading of this story is used to introduce the album, it quickly expands outward. In the world of Nod, humanity is the swine, and God is the grinning wolf. Yet who is the victim, and who is the aggressor? Who is the benefactor, and who is the enemy? The album's stark minimalist imagery, featuring stylized imagery of a deceased pig and wolf, seems to emphasize the fact that, while we may, for a time, escape morality and/or immorality, no one can escape mortality.
Musically, the album most comfortably fits under the 'industrial' description (actual industrial, as opposed to music one would dance to), although there are elements of noise and dark ambient as well. Mostly, the album roughly alternates between abrasive passages of distorted industrial synth melodies, and brooding dark ambient meditations (with one or two songs being a mixture of both). While I would argue that this album does not lend itself to easy comparisons to other bands, besides perhaps comparing it to several other CMI bands active around that same time period, it does have a slight resemblance to later-era Prurient (in other words, focused more on the synth aspect of noise). Also, while the level of sampling is slightly less prevalent on this album than the previous recordings, it still shows up from time to time.
Although the album is relatively brief at 44 minutes, it manages to pack a sizable amount of dread in the bite-sized songs (ironically, there is no fat on these compositions), culminating in intensity in "And The Big Bad Wolf" and "A Black Madonna From Russia With Aw Aah". While the latter provides the album with a suitably apocalyptic (and purely instrumental) conclusion, "And The Big Bad Wolf" is noteworthy in the absolutely unhinged nature of the music and lyrics. Perhaps the most 'power electronic' track of the collection, Wihlstrand's anguished shouting evoking William Bennett, but with ideologically obscure manifestos more in common with IRM than the average violence/misogyny common in the genre. Meanwhile, a highly distorted analog loop angrily rumbles in the background alongside an insistent horn sample and wailing drones. Perhaps it is just me, but in these (supposedly) end-times, there is something genuinely unsettling when one hears lyrics such as "Alone with myself I searched for comprehension / Why do you ask me to worship my will / Just to kill it in cold blood / You came down to be amused for a while / Never ever have you thought about what a plague you are / I am the most perfect victim..."
In conclusion, if you enjoy Institut, IRM, or even power-electronics/noise/dark ambient in general, then you will probably enjoy this album. While it is not an entirely perfect album 'in general' (my main concern that a few of the songs could have been just a little bit longer), it does embody that 'groundbreaking sound and presentation' that, save for IRM, seems to have slowly vanished from noise and power electronics. While this is a lamentable state of affairs, it is albums like "The Story..." which hopefully serve as a guiding light for the future rather than an epitaph of the past...
In addition to having most of his work available for free through his Reverbnation site, the album is also available on iTunes. It might take slightly more work to find a physical copy. While I am not sure if CMI has any copies through their mail order, you can order one through Discogs.
Official Nod Website (Through Archive.org Wayback Machine)
Nod album description on CMI