Friday Album Portrait – Nadja’s “Dagdrom”

Dagdrom- a Danish word meaning daydream, or reverie… a perfect album title for a band who describes the music they make as “a heavy blanket of sound to tuck you in at night.” Toronto’s “ambient doom” duo Nadja (Aidan Baker & Leah Buckareff) have been cranking out CD-Rs and EPs since 2003, but their latest offering confirms that they have sharpened their game of droning guitars, thudding bass-lines, and epic song structures into a sonic-phenotype that is without parallel… a genetic mutant beating natural selection at her own game.

The husband-wife duo (how a group can tour with this dynamic is completely beyond me) who spends time between Canada and Berlin decided to add percussion from The Jesus Lizard’s Mac McNeilly, providing more space and slam to already mind-chasming soundscape. Baker believes the rock-aspect of the album (compared to their back catalog) makes Dagrdrom more accessible (see: opening push of Space Time & Absence)… it certainly got to me.

The opening track, ‘One Sense Alone,’ is the perfect drop-off for the subconscious’ drift into the archetypes… a simple thundering, fuzzing guitar line pulses with simple rhythms to ease things out like a raft pushed off the shoreline, into the depths. The riff twists around unintelligible lyrics that become the framework for whatever the words should be, according to the dreamer. ‘Falling Out of Your Head’ rolls smooth and subtle to start, continuing from the previous track, but with a snare roll and a ominous feeling of thunder approaching the song begins to accelerate… the pace tightens as a high-frequency beep begins to fill out the spaces between smash and sludge… a fire alarm in the distance, an ambulance on its way, the tornado sirens pleading for the citizenry to take cover… and then back to the slow pulse. A nightmare… evaded for now… until the warning bells chime and the seizure resumes.

Their title song ‘Dagdrom’ swirls and obfuscates like the remnants from a nuclear explosion, a sandstorm of isotopes and radioactive flashes and chemical fuzz… it has all the qualities of a lucid dream, maybe even part night-terror… the body begging, fighting itself to move against the catatonia of the midnight’s innate fear. ‘Space Time & Absence’ is the album’s high intensity opener, the last call for cosmic consciousness. There is a distinct refrain that beams through the penumbra, an almost My Bloody Valentine feel to the yearning lyrics… distance, yet immediacy … again your temporal lobes are filling in Baker’s amorphous syllable runs. It ends on a lonely, singular tone, fading and droning from the dream-state back to reality… the fugue has ended, and now we are awake.


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