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Merciful Nuns - Exoplanet [EP] + Earth [7" Single] (2014) - Review

Band: Merciful Nuns
Album title: Exoplanet [EP] + Earth [7" Single]
Release date: 21 February 2014
Label: Solar Lodge

Exoplanet [EP]
01. Planet Mover
02. Argonauts
03. Nebular
04. Violet Flame
Earth [7" Single]
01. Gamma Ray
01. A Day That Fades

"... / step across the line / rearranged creation / from the depths of / transformation". This excerpt from the lyrics of "Planet Mover" sums up well the issue adressed in Exoplanet EP and, furthermore, it sets the new release in Merciful Nuns'thematic context. Precisely, It begins where its full-length predecessor left off: "... / black, empty / infinite deep / then something!". However, the linkages between both their symbolic covers can be appreciated at a glance. In contrast with the Exosphere's pre-astronaut figure - aptly flanked with DNA chains - this one appears fully isolated and white-on-black what identifies the creators with their creations once the transition has occured.

Therefore, the sonic embodiment is immersive, sweeping and it's based on a meaningful minimalism which further amplifies the sense of astral experience provided. Two different - although closely related - destinations are offered in the band's last outing. One is Earth, which has been pressed on a 7" vinyl by no accident. Its analog texture fits perfectly with the radiactive soundscape and, likewise, its accurate sound gives more credibility to it, specially in terms of reverberation and humming. Upon the single's A-side we find "Gamma Ray", showing the Nuns' gloomy rock side. Unfussy, yet propulsive, drums drive the pulse with an hypnotic allure, supported by profound bass lines. From time to time, sleek string melodies intertwine with the rhythms and the wailing distortions to release the tension. Within that oppressive whole, Artaud's vocal chords resound full of desperation. "... I don't feel / I won't heal / I can't feel / the gamma rays upon me". Slow-paced and darker, B-side figuratively sounds as if it were the burned-out remnant from the previous cosmic burst. "... / can't believe it would end this way /...". There's an ominous calm reigning in "A Day That Fades". Drums like marking the way to gallow and bleak bass throbs accentuating Seth's lamentations: "... / something's wrong outside / in this blurred exile / where will you be / on a day that fades?". But over the last third, the track leads into a whirlwind of synths, rattles and guitars swallowing the singer. So, finally, the 'transformation' begins and, thereby, the second part of this intense journey also does. It takes us into Exoplanet EP in itself, where the questions raised so far are answered. The structures are vast and floating as their new virtual location requires.

Re-ignition comes with "Planet Mover", whose soundtrackish beginning is connected straight to the spherical dissolving that closes the single. An insightful metaphor places us in situation again: "One more arrow / through the narrow / one more structure / between pulsars". What follows is the kind of astral epic that only Merciful Nuns can create: a balanced mix of expansive ambiances sprayed by keys, both enthralling and threatening at the same time, and cool thrums&beats driving. Projected onto them, Seth's chanted chronicles become even more impressive. Following "Argonauts" is thrown by sidereal simulations and splits of a low-pitched, throaty recitation - "... / we are planetary engineers / ...". Then some skilled percussion solos come and go from beyond, like a sonic image of the 'rearrangement' referred to in the lyrics. The drama increases gradually, leading into a final rush of weeping chords and processed chants, with the croons tearing somewhere between hope and despair: "... / they should not be here today / they could not take here away / you're not supposed to see / I want to fall through a hole / a worm hole / a black hole /// a portal". Thereafter, "Nebular" + "Violet Flame" plunge us into a gravitational, peaceful cloud of synth-dust, silky bass and precise cadences. There's also delicate guitar melodies paired with raspy baritones full of longing - "... / how could I be no longer / a violet flame / ..." - offering counterpoint to the gaseous environment.

And thus ends Exoplanet, leaving us enraptured and eager for the next chapter of this obscure cosmogony. Sprang from the goth and the arcane, Nuns' sound has long trascending any classification, turning into perennial, significant music which is conceived by and "for the land of Sumer".

Review written by: Billyphobia (Virus G)
Rating: 9,5/10

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