German post-rockers Nihiling have managed to see the beautiful side of bleakness, based on the sound of their latest release, Batteri. The album could easily be the soundtrack to one of the many post-apocalyptic motion pictures being churned out by Hollywood studios. But that’s not to say the music is depressing. In fact, the band offers the opportunity to see hope in the face of certain doom.
Nihiling does not appear to base its sound in the groove, like Tortoise or other like-minded post-rock acts. Instead, their approach is to paint a sonic soundscape rooted in a wider variety of sounds, a la Sigur Ros or Explosions in the Sky. Distorted guitars, keyboards, and other electronics — in addition to the drums — are mixed together to create a dissonant sonic soup. The listener is free to choose any element of the band’s sound, and ride it out to the end of the composition.
Tracks like “Funeral” establish the album’s overall tone:
The following track, called “Idiot,” seems to double down on the mindset.
Lest we believe Batteri is devoid of hope, one look no further than tracks like “Lungs” and “Power Rangers,” which add vocals to the proceedings, to see that there is indeed cause for optimism within this soundscape. The band’s vocals are the musical equivalent of a bright sunbeam breaking through gray clouds.
“Ottersong” does the best job of combining the bleak/hopeful aspects of Nihiling’s music within the same song, while “Prey” starts out darkly and is brought beautifully to the light by the guitars and drums toward the end.
It would be easy to view Batteri as a militaristic-sounding march toward certain doom. But that would be selling this album way short. There is great beauty to be found throughout this album. The music is about the combined efforts of the band as a whole, not dominated by any one particular element or sound. To remove the bleakness would undermine the overall scope of the music. Nihiling offer up yet another fine example of what is possible in music if true artists are left to their own devices, and allowed to create without interference from outsiders.
This is an album truly worthy of your attention.
Buy Nihiling’s latest album, Batteri, here.