Nebula Rasa

A towering release from Bristol maximalist Matt Loveridge, finds Noel Gardner

Omniphonics is how Matt Loveridge refers to his releases as MXLX, which are only a fraction of his total releases but, indeed, the most omniphonious. What does it mean, though? Every type of music – or, at least, a remarkable breadth – condensed into one, relatively compact block of sound. Maximalism would be a slightly more recognisable term, I suppose. Even by Loveridge’s standards, the latest MXLX album is implausibly maximalist: layers upon layers of human/digital pop/metal defiance and gloom. He’s cited past releases as using up to 80 audio tracks at times, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Nebula Rasa topped that.

Self-released, self-produced and home-recorded, the six-song LP was apparently worked on almost nonstop for six months before Loveridge’s laptop was stolen from his Bristol flat, then somehow retrieved a few days later. Thoughts: being able to fit this much sound inside a clunky tea tray blows yer mind, don’t it? Being able to back it up on cloud storage is even wilder! And we nearly missed out on a pretty phenom suite of music here.

Every given song is formed of multiple segments, with most of those segments suggestive of a few stylistically different things, so rather than trying to liveblog the 44 minutes it might be better to note (some of) what one might hear on Nebula Rasa. Slimelight industrial pop, synthesised folk-metal like Goblin doing Korpiklaani. “Let the wolves eat my body and the crows my eyes.” A digitised take on Italian horror doom, ultimately drowned in cold computer fuzz. Vocals a sullen whisper, Jacob Bannon-esque metalcore shriek, 2006-era-Myspace Autotuned growl (no, I didn’t say crabcore… did I?) or almost-rapped couplets. Ultra-tense alt-hip-hop with techsteppy sonic flourishes, like Clipping. meets Source Direct. “The emperor’s swollen cock is turgid and infected.” Full-on gothic synthpop balladry, MIDI headrush, speedy quasi-ardkore digital breakbeats. “If the world wants me dead and protected then fuck it, I don’t think I really want to be saved.”

The final song, ‘Your Morals Are Worthless In The Eye Of A Tree’, incorporates metal, noise, choral music, free jazz, self-help spoken word and more 8-bit rave damage. It is the album’s omniphonic high water mark, likely that of MXLX’s work to date, therefore – as it’s basically his thing – anyone’s. Angel Marcloid and Lauren Bousfield are two American composers who come to mind as being in this incredibly grandiose ballpark, but I can’t imagine them sounding fucked up like this guy can, even while he’s building a towering and impressive sculpture. That’s a good thing!

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