As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Nadja.
I’m transported back in time—a few years ago at now defunct Seattle record store Dissonant Plane. It was my refuge. Huddled in the attic storefront was a swatch of chairs and carpet, home to glorious in-store performances from varied artists all in the name of spreading the musical gospel. I remember sitting in the back, arms folded in nervous tension, as Aidan Baker played a subdued solo set. Leah Buckareff stood behind the crowd in silence, engaged in telepathic rhythm with her confidant.
Now Dissonant Plane is but a memory and Nadja has left the North American plane for stoic Berlin. But we’re lucky to be offered glimpses into their work to this day, as the world shrinks (and postal costs soar) thanks to the tangle of intercontinental cords and galactic satellites that beam us closer together in cyberspace. Those feelings of warm togetherness from the record store have returned.
Dagdrøm is the latest from the forlorn duo, showcasing the band’s heaviest amalgamations of metal, doom and shoegaze. Joining them for the first time is former Jesus Lizard drummer Mac McNeilly; Nadja once again distorts themselves for their public, never betraying their trademark demure even as they forge to reinvigorate it. McNeilly’s drumming is center stage. It doesn’t ask for the spotlight but its noticeable timbre along with the low-end guitar and bass plucks of Baker and Buckareff adds to the charm of the Icelandic-tinged record. It’s not metal in the traditional sense—little of Nadja’s catalog ever is. It’s about perception, those hard blasts of tom and snare punctuating the stutters and growls of Dagdrøm. The earth shakes with each progression; this particular trio formidable in its approach.
And yet Dagdrøm is intimate despite the appearance of puffed chests and gigantic stomps. The album wraps around you, not with the squeeze of a deadly boa but with the hearty embrace from those who have been where you are headed. It’s a tough world and the best way to face it all is with fangs showing and claws out. Dagdrøm won’t bring back lost record stores or reinvent the music “business” but it will give you the strength to turn memories into motivation, one heavy trudge at a time.