Do I consider The Northern Religion Of Things to be a new album by Nosound? This question I asked myself while listening to the album for the first time. On their website it's announced as a new album of 'radical re-interpretations of Nosound-tracks'. This album has been recorded during the rehearsal process for a unique one-off Nosound solo gig that Giancarlo Erra performed in London, August 2010. He made some new arrangements for several well-known Nosound-tracks. To come as close as possible to the original versions, he used a live set-up that enabled him to sing, to play keyboards and acoustic guitar thus recreating sounds and effects from the original studio albums. This special live set-up was necessary since no backing tracks were used, but only triggered loops and the instruments he played on. All of the tracks were recorded directly from the stereo outputs and there were no overdubs or edits involved in the recording studios after finishing the album.
When I listened to the nine tracks on The Northern Religion Of Things, it was hard to believe that all sounds were produced by only one man. All songs sound so properly as if they were taken from the original albums instead of a live session. At the same time it seemed as if I was listening to a compilation, a sort of 'the best of Nosound'. This certainly is a compliment to Giancarlo Erra since he achieved something that most artists can only accomplish with the help of guest musicians. Still the relaxed atmosphere that can be heard on all the earlier releases is present. Sometimes the music is very emotional, even fragile, yet you're still listening to the familiar music of Nosound. Also familiar are the many photographs included in the booklet and on the cover made by Erra. By doing so he not only gives the music his own identity, but also the artwork becomes recognizable. Even when the name and the album title would not have been included you know that you deal with a release of Nosound.
Whether you like the music and artwork or not depends on your personal taste. Some people might say they could make the same kind of average pictures or mellow music, but fact is that Giancarlo Erra impressed me with his mellow music. The new versions of songs taken from Sol29 (2005), Lightdark (2008) and A Sense Of Loss (2009) delivered some fine relaxing moments. When I put my headphones on, I closed my eyes and found fifty minutes of inner rest. Grazie, Giancarlo!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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