If there is such a thing as “timeless” music then Nick Nicely is the ultimate timelord. Not only occasionally plundering the key working components that drove everything from 60’s psychedelia to 70’s pre-punk experimentalism to late eighties Shoegazing but also garnering sounds that seem somehow disconnected from contemporary music. Sounds more akin to industrial noise or the distant echo of the big bang, the organic sounds of our body’s metabolism or the claustrophobic atmosphere of extreme weather about to break. How he is able to weave all those sounds into palatable music is mystery enough but the bigger question is how someone can even come up with the idea of working with such sounds in the first place.
Space of a Second isn’t really an album that feels like a mere collection of songs yet neither is it a concept album, no more than any other album that has an internal consistency of style and sound. It feels more like an astral symphony, an old musical form using contemporary instruments to create the sound of the future. Actually the more I try to explain it the more I realise just how hard it is to put into words, I suppose that’s why words result in books and sounds result in music and very often one is an insufficient tool to explain the other.
There are parts that sound like a David Lynch road movie sound track if it took place in the backwater space lanes of the far future, expressing vast horizons and channelling the grandeur of the universe whilst channelling a dark, brooding and oft times threatening sub-plot. Other moments are pure baroque pop coming reasonably close to a traditional structure but still taking a subversive and dim view on such conformities. Elsewhere it seems like the bastard child of psychedelia and showgazery or some sort of missing link that has only just been unearthed and that adds a new chapter to music’s historical record.
Whatever is going on here, and it is music so wide in scope and adventurous in its mission that everyone will have a different interpretation, it is enough to say that Nick Nicely is a visionary, a cosmic shaman and a musical archaeologist all rolled into one. Lao Tzu once said, “Music in the soul can be heard by the universe” so maybe this is the music of the universe as heard by the soul.
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