Thomas Nöla – Mind Over Shadow

[Reviewed by stark]

Thomas Nöla always had a bent for good melodies and this double album proves that rule. The first CD is a story about a little boy called Ronny and his adventures in a strange, a little bit Orwell-esque, world. The second is purely instrumental. Something that could stand as a soundtrack for a movie about Ronny, if such would ever be made.

I have to say that I like the graphic design, referring to the nostalgic times of old videogames, 8-bit computers and consoles. Quite primitive if you see them from today’s perspective. Even the “Nöla” symbol is stylized on the Nintendo system logo. There is a whole retro scene based on idealizing all these old pixel entertaining gems (which – if you ask me – I still like a lot), and one of the factors of this scene is also a bunch of projects making 8-bit music. And for a moment I thought that Thomas prepared his latest proposition on the old Atari or C-64 as well, but no, this is only a visual entourage, a hint – or suggestion – of how you should see Ronny and his environment. Thomas has installed several 8-bit bricks in this whole construction, but they don’t stand as a foundation at any point here.

Because, frankly it is hard to determine what may be a common denominator on the album, so let’s just say it’s a melancholic voice of Thomas. The other references are like taken from rather different stories. The opening track reminds me of David Bowie’s “Heroes” and across another 45 minutes I noticed the echoes of OMD, Talking Heads, something post-punk or neofolk related, a pinch of electro and so on… Sometimes these connotations are more obvious, sometimes they may be but a vague impression. In general though, everything has its place in this intricate construction and it’s quite solid as a whole. But you don’t need to treat it as a concept and listen to single songs only, simply because these are, well, good and catchy songs.

The second CD belongs to analogue experimentations where shreds of melodies coexist with strange sounds out of this world. It has an illustrative, cinematic character, “Transistor/Resistor” is like something taken straight from a 70s sci-fi B-class flick. I prefer the first one though, even though the second CD often serves me well as a reading soundtrack. Still, this probably is the most mature and epic work by Thomas Nöla. So, if you don’t know him yet, I strongly advise to make an acquaintance with this gentelman. He has a story to tell you.

Thomas NölaMind Over Shadow
Disques De Lapin, LPN56
2CD/Digital 2018

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