Written By: Chris Parsons
Philadelphia’s Nothing is a heavy psyche, shoegaze outfit, known to share members with hardcore punk rock band, Horrow Show. Recently, the group dropped their third official release, a five-track 12″ EP from A389 Recordings, titled Downward Years to Come. If you’re already familiar with My Bloody Valentine or Whirr, then you’d definitely dig Nothing‘s thickly-layered wall-of-sound brand of sedated sludge. Their Bandcamp features samples of the EP, including the 2nd and 4th tracks, which is clearly intended to be experienced at max volume, on your turntable, to realize its full effect– hence why they wouldn’t want to give away the whole album online.
The EP’s title track– “Downward Years to Come”– is the second song into the album, and starts off with a bang! as the drummer cues the whole band with a very powerful, one-second fill and an even shorter, almost hesitant, hangtime. Then, all of a sudden, the sonic-booming guitars surge the void and launch you into a stratospheric headiness. The bassist weighs down the sound, laying down dark and driving undertones to fuel the fire as the drummer propels all sense of motion, rushing you through a pipe dream– much like the pumping adrenaline of experiencing the gnarliest roller coaster ride or a plane crash-landing, take your pick. The vocals are barely audible; a familiar and aesthetically pleasing quality of classic shoegaze, where the lyrics are less important than the subtly derivative feeling and expression felt in their execution as they lie just beneath the layer of almost-concrete sound. “Downward Years to Come” could very well be an opening track to an EP, as it accurately captures and does awesome justice for the sound and energy that Nothing strives for as they drive the powerful vibes straight into the ground, and finish off the kill with an ambient minute-and-a-half drone denouement to bring your consciousness coolly back into your snug, human composure.
On “If Only” the vocals are more prominent in the beginning, but just as inaudible in their distorted quality; an ear candy noise for any audiophile or experienced psychonaut. The guitar fuzz is more subdued at first, creating a bedrock foundation for the ethereal lyrics floating above. A warm and slick, major chord progression slips the song back into Nothing‘s staple wall-of-sound, complete with shimmery guitars, and the most subtle vocal harmonies embedded somewhere in the midground. Eventually, the second vocalist deviates from the first and supplies and the subtlest counter melody, its most audible moments being the internally familiar sounds of sibilant S‘s through a microphone as he intersects, and seemingly echoes the sounds of the first. All the while, the bass and drums maintain a steady, building march and pumping pulse, which gradually pushes all the elements of “If Only” towards a booming climax, stretching infinitely in all directions. Again, Nothing chooses to trail-off into atmospheric bliss to close out the piece, which probably makes sense when considering the album as the whole, as these two previewed tracks are extracted from the middle of the album, interrupting the true story arc intended.
This short preview of 2/5 songs was certainly enough to grab my attention. I can’t imagine the power of Nothing experienced live, but then again, I don’t have to! They are playing in their hometown of Philadelphia tonight (11/16) at Kung Fu Necktie with other heavy psyche-type, experimental bands, METZ and Heavy Medical. I don’t think there’s a better way to celebrate the fall season here on the east coast then indulging in some live, classic shoegaze. If you’re not in the area, that’s okay too; Nothing recently recorded live sessions for WXPN’s The Key, a Philadelphia hotspot for anything related musically and locally. Their live sound is powerfully epic and rings clear and true to the sound heard especially on their latest release. I’ll definitely looking forward to adding the fresh Downward Years to Come to my vinyl record collection tonight!