[Reviewed by stark]
Nihil Nihil is a one-man neofolk project by Corvin Kloppenburg. “Hollow Victory” is his very first output, a cassette released by the aufnahme + wiedergabe label. Not a very long one, just eight rather short songs, mostly consisting of vocals and acoustic guitar.
Corvin has chosen an ascetic line of work. He doesn’t care about abundance of instruments, sound ornamentations etc. I can imagine his live performances. Just dimmed lights, a guy with a guitar on stage sitting on a chair , and that’s it. That’s enough however, we don’t need more. Especially that, while having such a limited instrumentarium, the artist is able to diversify the style of his acoustic ballads. Some of them remind us of the classics like Death In June, though it has to be said that Corvin’s style of singing is way more emotional than Douglas’s. I think that in general it reminds me more of the Italian singers in the vein of Rose Rovine De Amanti or Calle Della Morte. I refer more to the style rather than the timbre itself. Also, the other songs may bring to mind the Italian branch of neofolk in terms of atmosphere as well. Not the happy songs by Spiritual Front, but rather the sadness and desperation often characterizing the artists from that sunny country. “Judas Tree” for example brings Nihil Nihil a step closer to the dark country/dark americana style. I don’t know, but I feel like I’m in Texas rather than Germany while listening to this one.
In three tracks there are guest performances by Sonne Hagal’s vocalist, but he’s singing in a different way than in his mother band (except perhaps for “Opium Eater”). Quite similarly to Corvin’s manner, which makes the vocals very coherent; if I didn’t know it beforehand, I may not have recognized two different singers on “Hollow Victory”.
“Pull Down Thy Vanity” distinguishes itself from the remaining seven. This composition is based on a processed organ (?) drone and a sample by Ezra Pound. I like it very much and I wouldn’t mind hearing more like that in the future. Still, this is a very interesting debut, so that it’s not a surprise that a label such as aufnahme + wiedergabe was interested in bringing this tape to light. Sure, there are some shortcomings, for example the singing is sometimes out of tune. But I always say that it’s the charm of this genre, after all we all love Tony Wakeford, don’t we? The most important is that Nihil Nihil avoids the trap of being “another boring teutonic neofolk project”, because of a larger dose of emotions and not caring about black suns, fatherland, blah blah. I’m sick of the idea of another Darkwood clone if you ask me. This release is a victory, not necessarily a hollow one. An additional plus is the tape release. Even though some people consider the return of cassettes a hipster trend, I still like this format very much, so it’s really cool to have this one on tape instead of on CD or mp3 only – god forbid.