Immersion with Tarwater, Laetitia Sadier, Ulrich Schnauss, Scanner - Nanocluster Vol.1
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Nanocluster Vol 1. is an album with some serious pedigree. It sees Immersion (aka Malka Spigel and Colin Newman of influential groups Minimal Compact and Wire respectively) collaborating with some of the finest leftfield artists of our era: Tarwater, Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), Ulrich Schnauss (Tangerine Dream), and Scanner.
The project was born out of a Brighton based club night, also called Nanocluster, run by Spigel and Newman alongside writer, broadcaster and DJ Graham Duff, and promoter Andy Rossiter. The club features a range of influential and cutting edge music acts. But the unique aspect of the evenings is that each show climaxes with a one off collaboration between Immersion and the headliners. The songs having been written and recorded in the studio in just three days prior to the performance - or one day in the case of Schnauss. “It could have just been a series of performances.” Says Newman. “But the fact that we had built the tracks in the studio for the performances means we had these recordings.” Says Spigel.
The recordings have since been developed with Immersion heading up production duties. The result is a beautiful and unique album. “I think the really interesting thing is how different everybody is,” says Spigel. “Both as people and creatively.”
Immersion and Tarwater: The German duo of Ronald Lippok and Bernd Jestram have created an impressive body of work. Yet their involvement with Immersion has opened out their sound, creating a more panoramic soundscape. The opening instrumental ‘Ripples’ is a gentle breathe of optimism, all purring tones and sun dazzled synths. Meanwhile, ‘Mrs. Wood’ is a dubby psychedelic shuffle, Lippok’s vocal cool and assured over a fat bass line and skybound eastern melodics. It feels like a more spacious take on the Tarwater of albums such as Suns, Animals and Atoms. The four musicians’ third collaboration is Nanocluster’s most pop moment: with a heartfelt yet unsentimental lyric unfurling over feline rhythms, ‘All You Cat Lovers’ is a feel-good anthem for cat lovers everywhere.
Immersion and Laetitia Sadier: An original and distinctive presence in contemporary music, Sadier made her name with the inimitable Stereolab, but she’s also created several impressive solo works. The instrumental ‘Unclustered’ sees Sadier’s spidery guitar weaving through Immersion’s lush web of synths drones. The following ‘Uncensored’ has a subtle melodic tug with a classic Spigel guitar line underpinning Sadier’s sweet yet worldly wise vocal. ‘Riding the Wave’ is another feel good song, swapping between Newman’s plaintive vocal, and Spigel’s vocal and Sadier’s backing vocals. With its uplifting chorus: ‘Things have a way of working out’ ‘Riding The Wave’ feels like it might be the sound of the summer we’ve all been waiting for.
Immersion & Ulrich Schnauss: A highly respected solo artist, as well as being a member of Tangerine Dream, Schnauss’ skill with electronics is legendary. The opening ‘Remember Those Days On The Road’ skips along on a rimshot rhythm with Spigel’s honeyed vocal telling a tale of life on tour. Yet it is far removed from such usual fare. This feels vulnerable and flecked with melancholy. ’Skylarks’ opens with a lattice of arpeggios before a gently nag- ging guitar enters and everything takes a turn for the sublime. ‘So Much Green’ is everything you’d hope a collaboration between Newman, Spigel and Schnauss could be. A constantly spiralling urban-kosmisch, with Spigel’s plangent bass anchoring the celestial sounds. The addition of her wordless backing vocals and recordings of real birdsong only serve to elevate the mood further.
Immersion & Scanner: Scanner - aka Robin Rimbaud - is one of the most prolific and diverse artists currently working in contemporary music. Spigel and Newman have of course collaborated extensively with Rimbaud before: alongside Max Franken in the art-pop group Githead. But this is something very different. Their opening piece together: ‘Cataliz’ is the album’s moodiest moment. With its serpentine synth drones it sounds like the soundtrack to a mysterious thriller. The rich pulsing ‘Metrosphere’ recalls Immersion’s early work whilst adding another layer of grainy uncertainty. The closing ‘The Mundane and the Profound’ opens with a “Rimbaud scanned” recording of an irritated flight attendant but this is eventually subsumed by a simple yet emotive piano figure: a gentle and touching end to a unique collection of songs.
Nanocluster Vol.1 is a testament to a remarkable synergy between a diverse assembly of strongly individual talents. The fact that it not only succeeds, but excels should be cause for celebration.
All You Cat Lovers
Immersion, Laetitia Sadier:
Riding The Wave
Immersion, Ulrich Schnauss:
Remember Those Days On The Road
So Much Green
The Mundane And The Profound
- Double-10" LP housed in gatefold jacket with wide 8mm spine
- Limited edition, and available exclusively from indie stores for Love Record Stores 2021
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