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Under the Jaguar Sun

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Album Review

A monolithic beast as a band, Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff's Nadja are more prolific than some indie labels and leave most bands in the dust when it comes to releases — perhaps only Acid Mothers Temple and Merzbow issue as many records. (And this doesn’t include Baker's solo output, which is equally impressive!) Under the Jaguar Sun, is, however, a record that sums up Nadja’s identity perfectly. While both of these discs were recorded with the idea of being played at the same time, they can be enjoyed individually to great success. Disc one, Tezcatlipoca (Darkness), is comprised of five tracks totaling just under an hour. The music is the heavy, sludgy, doom-laden shoegaze that is their trademark, with enough tension and menace to fill a gladiator’s arena. The pace, ever unhurried, features Baker's distorted, blurry guitar and other instruments — including but not limited to sitar and glockenspiel — and Buckareff's bass and violin with some other players to round things out, slowly unwinding their own version of Dante’s Hell. Drums enter — always kick drum first then perhaps some cymbals and tom-toms — to propel the more forceful sections of “SUN1jaguar,” but are left out of the mix altogether on “SUN2windstorm” in favor of cymbal washes, feedback, and screaming single-string guitar skronk. The droning basslines and atmospherics are pervasive, synths flit in and out, but the noise element, the one that grips and never lets go, is evident on each track and keeps the listener on edge, but drifting. Disc two, Queztlcotal (Wind), is the polar opposite. Equally dark but with a far more ambient exercise over the same time stretch, its sense of space is never suffocating, as it is on the fist disc. Percussion instruments are enveloped and then accent various drones and unidentifiable sounds that shimmer and slip through the mix. The end result is a form of dreadful experimental ambience not unlike some of Brian Lustmord's offerings. The effect of both discs played simultaneously is a near perfectly synced statement of all of Nadja’s qualities and excesses displayed with a mournfully beautiful grandeur. [The album is also available as a completely remixed vinyl version.]

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Based in Toronto, this ambient doom/metal/electronic duo was the brainchild (and originally the solo project) of Aidan Baker. Already a prolific musician who had released a number of works with labels worldwide — including a vast catalog of CD-R only releases — Baker used Nadja to explore the darker aspects of his musical soul. Taking on vocalist and bass player Leah Buckareff allowed the expansion of Nadja's sound, as well as the ability to play live. Established in 2003, Nadja's early...
Full Bio
Under the Jaguar Sun, Nadja
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