Nickolas Mohanna

Reflectors

Nickolas Mohanna's Reflectors, in all its shimmering, explosive bursts of audible color, is yet another solid release from Australian label Preservation. It's the fifth of the imprint's "Circa" series of CDs, which has carried full-length titles from many other TOME favs, notably Quiet Evenings and their stunning Transending Spheres CD from earlier this year. So right away you should know that Reflectors is good. What you don't know is that it's actually this good. Now based in New York, Mohanna has previously studied under field recording and tape-manipulation veteran Bob Ostertag in San Francsisco, and subsequently learned a thing or two about the art of field recordings and found sounds. Evidence of which is here on this CD... somewhere.

Hidden, buried...—no—reflected is probably more apt. As cheesy as that comes off, don't try to look for those field recordings quite so hard. That's not the point, for the process here is somewhat invisible. With Reflectors, Mohanna draws a line between these real moments happening outside himself (field recordings), and the equally-opposite but nonetheless real moments happening from within (his performances, whether those be guitar, synth manipulations, or otherwise). These two extremes are blurred together, such that with the difficulty it is to tell what is what here, they ultimately become mirror images of each other, thus realizing an inherent "oneness" between reception and performance. Even in the album's ultimate track, "Particles," in which you can hear an airplane's engine fairly clearly, the sound is quickly and completely absorbed into a wash of throbbing synths that eventually swallows the mix leaving you left to wonder whether it really was what you thought you just heard. Was it... after all? Mohanna's natural surroundings become an integral part of his music—informing what is heard synth/guitar-wise, but also the music has an equal impact on the environments themselves as elements swirl together, compete for dominance and ultimately work towards the creation of these beautiful, holistic works—a sum that is much greater than its individual parts. And from this, we have an art form that is a psychic overhaul. An erruption of the mind. A hot, psychedelic sweat. A nervousness, a double-take, a distrust of the ego. All manifested through a series of 'tone poems' that build on harmonically sound foundations of smooth bass and succeed to bounce sounds, tones and drones off trampolines of tremolo, scathe synths with a distorted disdain, and leave the listener absolutely rapt in an awe-stricken gape.

And that gaping fool would be me after a run-though of "Color Theory" (see below), easily one of this year's most amazing singular pieces of music. It is a trance-enducing, celestial assualt on the senses. A light-bending, time-warping adventure, tones packed with inertia, lifting off and soaring across the sonic horizon to lord only knows where, you clinging disperatly to its trail of stardust. Utterly thrilling. Mohanna also gets damned pretty, like "Solar Mechanism," a gorgeous passage of rippled tones, all stretched way out like a cat woken up by a ray of sunshing slowly moving across the carpet. Pieces arc, moving linearly to round out into well defined shapes. And this may be Mohanna's strongest suit—these are all manageable packages of music. These are songs. Drones, yeah... but songs. And though his exact method may be fuzzy, to me it's all just beauty, even if it can get a little scary (and trust me, it does). Heavy tremolos, breath-taking distortions, a wide spectrum of sound, experiments with simultaneously dissonant/consonant layers. And of course that general dizziness. That blissout. That holy moment. A hot mess. Yes. Nickolas Mohanna, you are a hot mess. Or you've created one. Or I am one. Let's do it again.

Crawf

Nickolas Mohanna's Official Website

Preservation

Video for "Color Theory," created by Nickolas Mohanna himself ::

November 14th, 2011