[Reviewed by: Damiano Lanzi]
Recording albums with lo-fi production techniques may appear to most listeners as a choice dictated by scarcity of economical and technical means, and in many cases this is true. On the other hand, the artists that confront their creativity with essential instrumentation, avoiding elaborate arrangements and production tricks, often result in more original material, being free from pre-constituted templates and standards.
That’s the case with Nastrom, the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Stevan Lenhart, released by the Serbian independent label PMK Records. In its simplicity and conciseness, Nastrom’s self titled EP transcends a variety of alternative and underground styles (doom, stoner, krautrock, darkwave, martial industrial etc). The formula is simple, yet very efficient: essential arrangements crossed by the dry and cutting sounds of drum machines, vintage analog electronics, whispered vocals and cheap guitars. The backbone in Nastrom is the bass guitar anyway, with its amazing, growling sound that enhances the steely harmonics of the strings. The record is a collection of simple but devastating Sabbath-ian bass riffs, that often seize the sonic spectrum of the guitar, as it happens in the second track “Deepest Secret” and in “Disappear in Smoke”. The instrumental “Deliblato Sandstorm” is the perfect introduction to Nastrom’s dark atmosphere with its cinematically increasing tension, hypnotic guitar riffs and martial snare drums, punctuated by sulphurous electronic sounds. The intro of “Night Lust”, with ambient pads and delayed drum machine snares is instead a good example of Lenhart’s skills in the use of electronics. The conclusive “Sign Out” opens with curious wooden sounds and continues with a cyclic riff, marked by the deep tolls of the guitar.
I look forward to a full length album by Nastrom as soon as possible, and I really hope that the weirdness of their sound remains intact.