Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Notum - Nihil Est in Intellectu

Album: Nihil Est in Intellectu
Artist: Notum
Label: Zhelozobeton
Catalogue  no: ZHB-LXXIX


     1.      Overreaction of the Mind (feat. Kryptogen Rundfunk)
     2.      Queen of Space
     3.      Orchidstore Trip
     4.      Metamorphosis
     5.      Relocate the Bear Safely
     6.      Lysogen
     7.      Focus
     8.      Threads
     9.      Ktaj

How best to encapsulate the music of Berlin-based project Notum? Labels are at best an inconvenience and an obstruction, as well as being pretty much useless in cases like this. The artist him/herself describes it as ‘experimental/freeform’ but it’s so much more than that. Certainly there are elements of experimentation and freeform meanderings but we also have drone, noise, ambient, and shades of both the early German experimentation of bands like Popul Vuh, Cluster, and Harmonia, and the minimalist creations of the likes of LaMonte Young, Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Steve Reich. It would be too lazy of me to say something as trite as ‘it’s difficult to pin down’ but conversely the music here stubbornly refuses to stay within the lines of conventional categorisation. Just take a look at the cover to this album – a visual description if ever there was one of what we’re confronted with.

This is Notum’s debut full-length opus and it’s about as expansive and all-embracing a calling card as you can imagine. Notum est in Intellectu (Nothing is in the Mind) brings us nine tracks, all of which play around with sound and genre freely, but all threaded through with the artist’s philosophy of not adhering to one particular philosophical outlook. More than that, and very apparent, is Notum’s playfulness and abstraction: here the musician is using sounds as if he were playing with clay, moulding, pushing, pulling, stretching, and compressing. Sometimes he creates patterns and rhythms (‘Focus’, ‘Threads’), or surprises us with a sparse ambience (‘Queen of Space’), and at others erases any notions of the orderly and accessible by the use of cut-ups and noisy chaos (‘Overreaction of the Mind’), while at yet other points a mischievous humour shines through (‘Relocate the Bear Safely’), almost as if he’s saying “I’m enjoying this and so should you!”.

The album, when seen in the round, is a mix of the phantastique, phantasmagorical, the absurd, the comical, the chaotic, and the cosmic. There’s so much to glean from these nine pieces. As an introduction to the colourful world of Notum, it’s as good as any travelogue and gazetteer you’re likely to want or need. Thoroughly recommended.

Psymon Marshall 2019

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