Nerij – Lophophora Williamsii And Monochromatic Perceptions
Lophophora Williamsii sounds like exactly what it is – something closely related to a powerful psychoactive substance. A lot of people would’ve gone to Goa and dropped acid and done shrooms, but mescaline is a bit of a rarity in comparison, considering that the plant it comes from is Peyote (native to North America), which is scientifically termed as…any guesses?
Nerij, a one man dark ambient project from Italy, chooses to aurally depict the introspective transcendence attributed to the aforementioned substance, and reviewing such an effort which is bare-boned drone is quite the tightrope walk – it is as easy to dismiss the effort as trivial on account of the glaring absence of melody, rhythm or structure and chock-full of pretense as it is to label it as a work of art that supposedly derives the utmost from deep introspection in a singular direction and paints a picture of a post apocalyptic scenario in various (and to be harsh, tempting to say fifty) shades of grey. Unfortunately, these divisive opinions are not equally justified in this case. For those like me with temporally fluctuating musical preferences, the appreciation of this album solely depends on the mood. This is not an album for the summer heat of May, where a cold beer and a dose of some thrash or grind would be more apt. Neither is this for the dark and dreary days of the monsoon, or the winter, where one can turn to doom metal like October Tide or some ambient jazz like Bohren & der Club of Gore. This is music to be heard in complete solitude, in a state where your environment does not affect your perceptions, where music like this will be the perfect background for some serious contemplation of whatever it is that you want to contemplate. You can’t like or dislike this music, you can merely allow it to exist in the background or simply turn it off in favour of a more active musical voice.
Some valid criticisms still remain, criticisms that go for most artists belonging to this sub-genre of music – mainly the fact that it belongs more to the domain of experimental noise rather than music in its more classical form – like an exotic creature that is neither aesthetically pleasing nor vitriolic, but easily forgotten once you go back home after having spotted it in the zoo as a mere novelty, one lacking any depth or detail to make it memorable. This approach has been around for quite some time now, Coil’s Time Machines being another experiment in this direction (albeit a much more successful one), where songs were tested for ‘maximum psychedelic potency’ and so forth, but whereas Time Machines still has an unsettling impact (especially in silent closed spaces, where it’ll throw your sense of time off track and make you think you’re high), this is one aspect where Nerij and other artists in this style would do well to look into if they actually want to make music with a listener in mind, even if it is the composer himself, else it is like attempting to ‘record’ a piece like John Cage’s 4:33 – it simply does not make sense, neither is it worth the time and energy, no matter how infinitesimal. Narcissistic impulses without impact are wasteful at best.
Bottomline – a decent soundtrack to meditation and/or altered states – it will amuse you when you’re there, but it lacks the strength and conviction to take you there on it’s own.