Nicarus
Coal People Coal Puppets


3.6
great

Review

by Dewinged STAFF
April 5th, 2021 | 14 replies


Release Date: 01/08/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Behind the mask another mask.

There's a distant voice that sings in a common tongue from some hidden room in the heart of Tel Aviv. It comes from the soul and goes into the world, waiting for its heavy heart to land safely on receptive ears. I might be one of the chosen ones, or I may have forced my way through with the help of my incurable thirst for novelties, but the second album of Israel based Tali Green's project, Nicarus, landed on my speakers uninvited and unannounced, one cold morning of January this year, and a few months later I'm still grateful for it.

I had little idea what to expect, so I readied myself with my better skeptic suit and waited for a soft arpeggio on a dusty acoustic, the harbinger of every Phoebe Bridgers wannabe, to shove grief and discomfort down my throat, as it's common these days, but instead, the sad girl was not sad, but hella angry, and she wielded no acoustic, son, she had brought a whole post-gaze sludge arsenal with her. Joke was on me. If I had listened to her self-produced debut EP from 2 years ago, Holy Sun Father Spirit, where Green blasts pure, unaltered post metal and sludge ala Subrosa, always with the help of Texas based drummer and friend Rom Gov, from Seek Irony, I would have been well prepared for what Coal People, Coal Puppets had in store. But the fact is that I didn't, and hence I was both blessed and punched with surprise and bewilderment, unprepared, and honestly, a little bit alarmed.

The album release post on social media, particularly on Nicarus' Facebook, was received with some dude bombing political memes and straight up stupidity in the comment section. Nicarus' homeland is not particularly known for treating female artists with respect, often being pushed to the back-chorus role of some horribly average band or being denied access to studios and recording options that their male counterparts have. In that sense, Tali Green's options for her music have always been conditioned by what she can do by herself. She built her own studio, where she produces young artists from her city, films her own music videos and basically embraces the DIY culture both as a last resort and as an essential part of her music.

Knowing this, Nicarus' first full-length might not shine by its production values, but by the material it packs. It's rare enough to stumble upon a one-woman army project like this one, let alone coming from Israel, but the spiraling shoegaze of the opening track "We Can See Their Lies" quickly shows that Nicarus has something special going on, although it's just the tip of the iceberg. She excels at going full Melvins on "Are you Afraid to Die Alone", or even at channeling some Type O'Negative, or True Widow, in the middle section of "The Architect of Grime". Rom Gov again behind the kit certainly elevates an album that could have been much less if it was treated to the lifeless thump of programmed drums, and there's no doubt that Green's vocals are the centerpiece of this record. To put it simple, she has THE voice, and she knows how to use it. Check "With Storms We Thrive" for a brief taste of her magic or immerse right into the title track for some serious spellbinding sludge driven by her whimsical vocal harmonies.

It is true that the overall production brings Nicarus' debut a notch, although, and to be fair, they are details that will just improve in further iterations. Yes, the production is all over the place albeit being fairly decent considering Green cooks her own meal on the 6 tracks included in Coal People, Coal Puppets. Every track sounds extremely disjointed from the rest, maybe due to the artist experimenting with different configurations in search of the perfect sound, but some of them, like the title track, reaches critical levels of saturation at times. The second aspect to consider is Green's obsession with sample recordings. Their use has been minimized in comparison with her past works but their presence here is doubtful at times, stretching the track far more than needed, to taxing lengths.

All things considered, I do believe Nicarus is a project bound to do great things in the future, maybe even becoming the spearhead of a whole generation of young female artists struggling to break through the veil the male-dominated culture of her country tries to enforce on them. Coal People, Coal Puppets is certainly a good start. It channels the anger and frustration of not only Tali Green but of a whole new line-up of artists in need of respect and recognition. At the time of writing this, a remaster of this album has been confirmed, so expect a better version of Coal People, Coal Puppets, along with witch-themed filmography to celebrate its re-release.




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user ratings (8)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2021


24160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

I can't, for the life of me, make a single para review.



Jam here: https://nicarus.bandcamp.com/album/coal-people-coal-puppets



She has a video coming too, so I'll post that when she releases it. Hope you enjoy it!

Digging: Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The LSO - Promises

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2021


7097 Comments


single paras are the bestest and also quite hard if you actually have something even remotely nuanced to say about an album

great write up

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2021


13918 Comments


I too struggle with single para reviews. Minimum 800 words here I come.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2021


2780 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice, great review (even though it's 3 paras too many how dare you smh!!!)

album is nice but i haven't come back to it a whole lot sadly

Digging: half/cut - Salt an Atlas

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2021


24160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

Well that's a challenge for the future.



Album's alright, she certainly has something cool going on, I have faith in this lady.



Check her debut Jesp, it's more gritty and raw than this one, cool stuff.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2021


2780 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

on it! been pretty starved for post-sludgy-gothic-woman-heavy-sad-core recently lol

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2021


24160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

It'll hit the spot then I think lol

DivergentThinking
Contributing Reviewer
April 6th 2021


8591 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review! I like the way you touch on that concept of what's best for the artist vs. the artist's own principles. It would probably be difficult to ditch the DIY aesthetic and approach, whether out of fear or perhaps just being comfortable with that way of doing things. But it can be limiting, and expanding your horizons can seriously affect how your style evolves



Also, she's from Tel Aviv? Damn, I could have met her if I knew that back in 2018... I went to Israel as part of my deployment, lol

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2021


24160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

Well Div, as you know I've been recently informed that the DIY approach is not entirely by choice so I might touch up on that once / if I am given the correct information.



I guess that what i wanted to convey is that she has smth really cool going on that could benefit from a better production/overall sound. Whether it comes from her or from a collaborator might be irrelevant.



I mean I do record my own stuff too, with one mic a cheap laptop and headphones, I don't even have monitors, but I always think to myself how would that stuff sound if recorded on a studio with better mics and an engineer who actually knows what he/she is doing. But like you say, I am more confortable doing it all myself, and I wouldn't know if I could get the same performance working with other people.



So tl;dr DIY or not, tricky issue.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2021


34683 Comments


End of the day, if this is held back by its DIY traits that's as far as it needs to go. Probably swap 'relinquish control' for any verb phrase that doesn't imply her process comes from a place of picking and choosing; everything else is fair shit

Digging: Xiu Xiu - OH NO

DivergentThinking
Contributing Reviewer
April 6th 2021


8591 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's definitely tricky for sure. I used to be in a punk band back in college, and our undoing was that our members had drastically different ideas of where we wanted to take the project. I wanted to move toward more of a hardcore/metalcore sound - as did the drummer - whereas the singer and keyboardist wanted to move in more of a soft indie rock direction. So naturally there was a clash, which is why we fell apart and I've been doing things DIY ever since. I wanted to take more control of my music



And then of course, as you said, there are circumstantial reasons too. Budget restraints, lack of willing collaborators, etc. When I visited Israel, there was definitely a lot of poverty there. We were instructed to not even visit Tel Aviv because of how run-down and violent it apparently was. So I can definitely understand Nicarus' situation there

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2021


24160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

"Probably swap 'relinquish control' for any verb phrase that doesn't imply her process comes from a place of picking and choosing; " Fair edit Johnny, will do, cheers.



@Div yeah it's hard to know the specifics of her situation without that info, and like I say up there, it's not even the biggest issue, at the end of the day I do enjoy the album ;)

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2021


24160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

I gave this review a really good face wash. I'm still not 100% happy with it, might be the review I have struggled with the most in years, but I think it's better than the previous version.



Anyway, I guess it's time to move on, for the folk that haven't checked it yet, do it, you might be surprised.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
April 10th 2021


2780 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it's (still) a wonderful review! checked the ep, great stuff as well



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