It’s been a season of new musical discoveries for me, which can (almost) only be a good thing, in my mind. The only tangible downside is that with each new unearthing, my preferred method of consumption – the true chaotic shuffle: everyone in the hat and see who’s pulled out – gets more competitive. Sometimes, though, an artist will peer through the rabble: like glimpsing the elusive Wally of Where’s Wally? fame (Waldo, Walter, and even Vallu to some) amid the hustle and bustle, they catch my attention enough to warrant concentrated listens. Meet NAKE, everyone.
For the uninitiated, NAKE are a four-piece hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark. Their penchant for complex rhythms and cinematic, noisy layering culminates in a progressive-sounding wealth of instrumental goodness. Their self-titled debut outing was also recorded, produced and mixed by their keyboardist Poul Høi. Naturally, this has afforded them the opportunity to ensure their compelling vision comes to fruition exactly as desired. It’s a wonderful, innovative style that dynamically welds shimmering originality to firm foundations, and rightly earned the record a spot on our most recent Weekly Recs list.
NAKE fully capitalise on this unique texturing. They plunder their treasure chest for the thick layers of dissonance and thunderous drum work you might expect from this style of sound, but juggle it with more obscure gems such as ethereal analog synthesisers hearkening to ‘80s sci-fi soundtracks; you’ll also find Western-like guitar playing in the style of renowned composer Ennio Morricone. Make no mistake, though, the more predictable elements of post-rock are by no means weak and put the record in good stead thanks to raucous guitar, bold drums, and thick, penetrating bass. However, you need only hear the stamping, persistent bass drum rumble on “Weaver” or the jazzy, interdimensional rambunctiousness of “Initiation” to conclude that NAKE are not here to blend in, but quite the opposite.
There is also a crushing sense of depth at play here that’s fun to sink into. Each of the eight tracks provides elements that freshen up the more formulaic aspects of associated genres. The incremental arrival of “Offering” may appear to be usual post-rock opening fodder, yet it soon opens up to a mammoth riff that carries us along until eerie synths signify that the winds of change may bring yet another shift – and they do indeed. A storming guitar solo drops your guard, followed by a searing spotlight on the keys. These moments highlight how comfortably NAKE incorporate the unexpected into their soundscape, safe in the knowledge that their duet of intermingled noise and emphasised flourishes work to great effect.
On the record’s back half, “Morningred” gallops steadily, demonstrating an epic unfolding of the decidedly more canon components. We’re then treated to “Arrival” – the second briefest inclusion on the album next to interlude-esque “Cast” – with more rhythmic riffing and barraging drum work. However, as closing track “Common” steps in, a sense of building expectation sets in – as though the amalgamation of all that’s gone before awaits us. And boy, does it. Hulking atmosphere, lashings of guitar, frantic and shifting textures: all are employed to close out this self-titled journey in style. It’s a fitting end, though not bowing out without a final, glorious section unleashing synth work that has been undoubtedly key in giving this album an appeal and distinction from so much else that’s out there.
With NAKE at the helm, we’re whisked across an intriguing, otherworldly vista stacked with consummate performances that offset the collective gravity of their densely textured tunes with moments that bring serious individual chops into the theatrical limelight. If you’re a fan of post-rock, but have found yourself growing increasingly distanced by its offerings lately, NAKE may be the ones to break that cycle and draw you back in – perhaps proving themselves instrumental in more ways than one, then.