Review Summary: Motorik psych/drone for not-so-easy riders.
In their sole online interview with Downtuned Mag in 2012, Hellenes-Thessalonikans This Is Nowhere, an outfit specialized in devising custom mixtures of drone, psychedeleia, noise and heavy rock, lamented the lack of financial support in order to get their first ever material right when they wanted to. This time, it was the involvement of band members in various projects, that delayed the new album Grim Pop
for 4 years, but the patience of whoever kept frequenting their social media points of entry for any kind of update, will be definitely rewarded. In so many words, the band makes a three-peat in shifting to a different focal point within its core guidelines. The atmospheric/fuzzed-out stoner drone that overarched their debut Turn On, Tune Down, Drop D
ebbed in follow-up effort Music To Relapse
for the sake of improvised/“half-finished” heavy/indie rock jams, occasionally leading to really cool, fast-paced rock n’ roll tracts of noisy groove. In hindsight, the scarcity as much as the potential of these segments to drone if semi-infinitely looped, must have acted in tandem as the primary nuclei for what boils in store this time around.
drones as much as Turn On...
, however it is far more agile, diverse and immediate. As they admit with confidence in the album’s digital liner notes, This Is Nowhere are not afraid to map a unitary groove and perpetuate it to an arbitrary degree, as long as it makes sense to do so, and there’s not a single frame in the album where it isn’t so. That’s because if you have ever made a mix tape with the coolest parts from your favourite songs and have each segment reiterated ad infinitum, then it is not difficult to see that Grim Pop
is This Is Nowhere’s mix tape of the sort, shrouded with a hugely organic sound; that said, the more some random producers might listen, the more segments are likely find their place in some imaginative electro remix. Nominally, shedding a progressive outreach like the one proposed in Music To Relapse
, would shift everything to the land of the mundane; but as the pack of not-so-easy riders that they are, the band just knows when to roll (album opener), or to crawl and shuffle, even bordering funeral doom from their own initial point (album title track).
The new album has some nice subtleties enclaved all over the place, like the post punk drum/guitar patterns in “Void Rejects”, the omnipresent surf rock undercurrent, the closing riff in “Crystals” which would be an instant fit to a standard black metal rhythm section setting, or the overall contribution of new member Duru Duru (sic haha!), a prescient addition to the band’s fold and sound. Even the aforementioned progressive element is survived, expanded and improved in “Theme for Bluefluke”, a long player of an instrumental in which everything/everyone improvises while it/he/she drones. This is Nowhere are huge players and the album could easily be an instrumental one, but the vocals break through the music’s high ceiling and catapult the rubble beyond. Over the years, their singer has creatively reminiscent of household names like Dave Gahan, Glen Danzig and Jim Morrisson, here though, he sounds as if he is treading his own path, probably because the music does so too.
Irrespective of form, art is what its maker shapes it to be, but post completion, its interpretation from recipients may be just as interesting. Grim Pop
photographs of band members are a case in point. Depending on the eye of the beholder, the band is weathering a long night at some corner of a minimal Thessaloniki rock venue or a spontaneous home gathering, waiting for the sun to rise so that they go eat bougatsa or something. Or, every member is all dressed up in full swagger, pretence and cool, hanging at what is probably a home or rehearsal room corner, and showing no need to head off anywhere, although the whole setting is somewhat claustrophobic, apart from minimal. The band’s home town is currently quarantined due to being the most brutally beaten place in Hellas by Sars-cov-2, so right now the latter interpretation is the author’s favoured one, as every time the world picture is painted grey, it is imperative to always play the optimist.