Harold Nono – Ideeit (2016) review
With an eclectic ear for a variety of musical styles, Scotland’s Harold Nono has kept us guessing across his solo albums and numerous collaborations with the likes of German musician and producer, Me Raabenstien under the moniker Taub, musician/composer, Hidekazu Wakabayashi, New York-based French musician, Eric Cosentino under the moniker, Jikan Ga Nai, and as a member of Haq with Japanese electronica duo, N-qia. You can also find his recordings as a member of Whizz Kid, as well as Marco Lucchi’s enormous, two-dozen plus-strong Orchestra Eclettica E Sincretista.
He’s so prolific (the above is only a sampling of his projects), it seems about the only thing he hasn’t done (yet) is recorded a version of “The No No Song”. But give him time! On the wonderfully-titled Ideeit, Nono explores the enigmatic, electronic sounds and rhythms we previously enjoyed on his earlier solo albums, also released on Bearsuit. Opener “Tahiik” puts us in the mind of a mysterious journey through heavily wooded forests or across the burning Sahara into deepest, darkest Africa. It’s an excellent cinematic salvo, perfect for accompanying a breakneck footrace should our hero stumble across some hungry lions!
“Dedy” adds some off-kilter oriental vocals and syncopated electronics and string scrapings to the mix, but eventually bursts into sweeping cosmic swoons that (almost) employ traditional pop melodies! “Otosan” is another glitchy electronic body swerve that is as enigmatic as its title suggests (I’ve located several references, from a Turkish arm of the Ford motor company to a cute and cuddly Japanese spokesdog for the SoftBank mobile phone provider. (With Nono’s previous collabs with like-minded Japanese artists, my money’s on the latter.)
Never one to visit a genre too long or overstay his musical welcome, Nono opts to sooth and relax us with the playful “King Tree”, which could just as easily plugged silky, satiny hair products, velvety soft kimonos, or that special body lotion your significant other’s been trying to get you to try on! Equal parts Morricone, Tangerine Dream, and Trent Reznor, there’s a lot to like compacted into its brisk four minutes. “Life Under The Lafayette” changes horses again for an elegant, classically-styled violin solo that wouldn’t be out of place on Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon soundtrack. Before it all ends, it sounds like his kid wandered in to the recording studio and dear ol’ Harold forgot to turn the tape machines off!
So, as should be readily apparent by now, Nono is aesthetically all over the place, thematically tossing the kitchen sink around to see if anyone salutes it as it passes by, and not giving a fuck-all if anyone can make heads or tails with what he’s on about. There’s always something different around the next corner, as songs like “Running Down A Pipe” offer backwards tapes, chicken scratches, moaning, scratchy voices, and anything else lying about.
Cinematic, electronic, experimental, glitchy, Oriental, poppy, loopy…it’s all in here, along with more scary and goofy shit I don’t think anyone’s even come up with a name for yet (cf., “I’m Disguised As An Idiot”; “Unbeaten Brothers and Sisters”). But one thing is certain, Nono (and Bearsuit) have come up with another fine release that will challenge complacent minds to live outside the box and let the sounds wash over you, genres be damned. It might sound in places like he set out to set The Conet Project to music, but you won’t soon forget it!
– Jeff Penczak
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