Nyul – When the Path Fades

IDMf Label is a forum-run netlabel which features on Netlabelism time and time again. The enthusiasm and diligence by which this forum persists is reflected in the strength of their free releases. The new EP by Nyul is no exception.

Genre-wise, the IDMf discography is wildly unpredictable; you never know what is going to happen to your brain the second you hit play. Will it be a wild and ruthless parade of industrial glitches and vile noise? Or will it be a blistering d’n’b hyper-thrive with brown-note hoover basslines? The 44th release on IDMf — When the Path Fades — consists largely of minimal and emotive melodic ambience. I’d like to say I was surprised, but with IDMf, you have to be ready for anything.

I am not sure if it was intended by the artist, but there seems to be a symmetrical structure to this five-track EP. The first and fifth tracks feature a guitar as the lead instrument, played similarly in each track. The second and fourth are largely drone-like with light melodics which build up with distortion. In track three, the blocks of piano motifs are arranged in a symmetrical structure (ABCBA, or similar). If you are a fan of symmetrical releases, you are going to love this one.

It is impressive how Nyul creates powerful emotion in his music with so few elements. From the release notes:

“Every sound and every note serves a purpose.”

The sparse texture works well. There is so much space that each part can be heard in great detail and with great clarity. Frequent subtle changes in texture and depth keep each track rolling forward.  I love how each track unfolds and how melodies are manipulated and developed.

Due to the sparse texture, there is little room for a poorly played or poorly recorded instrument to hide. Despite this challenge, Nyul has done extremely well to make this EP sound as good as it does. However, I do have an issue with the sonic quality of the piano. I love the guitar sound used in tracks 1 and 5, but the synthesized piano-sound used throughout the EP is sometimes bland. All other sounds are dusty and lo-fi and retaining a lively element. The ‘slightly-off’ intonation of the guitar is heartwarming. Unfortunately, for an EP with a piano at its core, the sound used could have been a little more natural.

All in all, When the Path Fades is a good EP. The folks at IDMf should be proud of another quality release.

Nyul – Floatfall


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