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Darkwave EP Review: "Staircases A" by Nundale

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.


Initial Impressions

Heavy, rough and dark are all adjectives that come to mind when listening to Nundale’s Staircases A. This is not easy or gentle music at all. Instead it is harsh, cutting and industrial with aggression and threat permeating every aspect of the EP. I am not normally in the habit of listening to music with this feeling, but I did find it quite challenging and therefore interesting to me. I appreciate the way in which Nundale was able to invoke unsettling and dark feelings in me with Staircases A.

The use of deep, growling and thick bass is the first way in which Nundale began to create sensations of elevated dread in me. There’s something intensely shadowed and uncomfortable about the way that bass seems to fall down and down into an abyss, pulling the listener into those depths along with it.

Another way in which Staircases A generates unsettling feelings is through harsh grating sounds and the feeling of glitchy distortion that moves through the music. Everything is on the edge of hysteria and the agitation is palpable as all of these broken, rough sounds cut into the music over the heavy bass shadows that move underneath them.

Track by Track Breakdown

“Cosimaa” is dominated by its deep growl of bass and a quick, pulsating beat. There is a scraping, brushing sound that has an insectile feeling to it and hard-edged, glitchy synth sounds add to the feeling of threat. The whole track feels unsettled with bursts of high, wandering notes and a general sense of chaos that dominates the entire soundscape of the track. I found that the grunting, grating background of the track kept me feeling edgy.

The jagged, glitchy nature of “DisformLL” made the track feel rough and aggressive. This is not easy music with hard, dark and twisted sounds cutting into the listener’s ears. This is dark, harsh and heavy music full of a feeling of disjointedness and disorder. It staggers and shudders, stumbles and breaks as the track moves along. This is music that asks for no quarter and gives none.

“Regress” is full of extremely deep bass sounds and harsh bursts of higher noise. This is not melodic music but relies on beats, aggressive sounds and repeating patterns to create darkness, tension and a feeling of threat. It feels like being attacked by swarms of insects. There’s something hungry and dangerous lurking in the background. Even though the final segment has a little more air and space in it, it still feels threatening.

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Nundale’s Staircases A is music that challenged me. It made me evaluate what makes music effective and powerful. I am a sucker for a great melody and warmth, so I can’t say I’d put Staircases A on regular rotation. However I can respect the way in which they have created a soundscape that explores the harsher, darker and more twisted end of the electronic music spectrum.

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