Nothing is Real – Transmissions of the Unearthly

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Artist: Nothing is Real

Release Title: Transmissions of the Unearthly

Label: Independent

Release Date: 31 October 2021

Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

Digital Price: 3.33 USD

Length: 88min

It’s late 2021, and here we are with a huge new Nothing Is Real (NIR) double-disc release titled Transmissions of the Unearthly. There are some great multi-instrumentalist music projects out there, but there aren’t really many like this. The man behind Nothing Is Real – Nicholas Turner – loves to change up his style when recording new music, and Transmissions of the Unearthly is certainly another example of just that. Turner has delivered something vicious here with an industrial edge. Comrades, this is a hell of a listen.

Nothing is Real is typically a solo project. You may remember last year’s NIR release Regeneration Through Self-Devourment, wherein Turner played all instruments, mixed, mastered, recorded, produced – well, suffice to say he handled all aspects of the album. By contrast, Transmissions of the Unearthly is more of a collaborative effort. Turner played guitar, bass, sang all vocals and mixed the album, but this time did not play drums, instead bringing onboard Jeremy Lauria for that role. Lauria’s performance and chemistry with Turner is excellent.

Immediately there is a sense of musical oneness, especially in tracks like Spontaneous Energetic Interference where Lauria’s percussion and Turner’s guitars, especially in the opening minute really shine. The sessions that saw the recording of this album were heavily improvised, which can sometimes lead to recordings where the band doesn’t mesh as well as they could to really pull off the sound or atmosphere they’re hoping to evoke. Sometimes however you get bands that can fully improvise an entire album, and you end up with releases like Interactivity by Tatsuya Nakatani and Shane Parish which we reviewed earlier this year here. There, the two artists involved showed effortless chemistry and an ability to create some great music without the limitations of traditional composition.

There’s a similar vibe here with Transmissions of the Unearthly, where it was actually surprising to find that there was so much improvisation involved, because it does not feel like it at all. That is a sign of good chemistry between well-chosen band members. With work like this, hopefully Lauria continues to be a part of Nothing Is Real. Somehow Lauria and Turner never seem to repeat themselves, which is amazing for an 88-minute release and there is a depth of spiritual and emotional intensity here, especially that underlying viciousness that seems to be evoked throughout. This is such an evocative and cohesive release that it almost feels like a concept album at times – truly a remarkable effort by Lauria and Turner.

Tracks like Sickened Samsara start off with a quiet tension that builds across several minutes. Subdued guitars and quiet riffing in the background create an atmosphere that anywhere else might feel tranquil. But this is a Nothing is Real release, and rather than tranquillity, there is a stressed feeling – the kind of feeling that could be described as hope, but the kind of hope driven by fear of failure. Lyrically, Sickened Samsara seems to encompass that idea well, telling a story of someone (or something) that has failed, time and time again, and continues to do so in increasingly desperate attempts to get just the smallest glimpse of light. Musically, as the track goes on, that desperation is reflected by heavier and heavier instrumentals, vocal screams and growls, distortion and eventually long notes drifting towards a final end.

Cackling Heathen follows on from Sickened Samsara and is just so brilliantly placed on the album. Where Sickened Samsara had a building desperate rage, Cackling Heathen lives up to its name as a celebration of madness and catharsis. Here we have rollicking riffs, stomping rhythmic drums, and shredding, perfectly played to a lyrical story of a madman’s superior rant about his own liberation and freedom, apparently amid violence and smoke. Of course, that superiority, condescension and talk of one’s unique freedom evokes a different kind of desperation that comes with alienation rather than the repeated failures discussed in Sickened Samsara.

This is an incredibly evocative album, and possibly the best Nothing is Real has recorded to date. Musically there is much to appreciate. From the punk rock, mosh pit riffs of The Amusement Park (There’s Nothing For You Here), to the pounding drums of Cackling Heathen. The acid rock vibes of Gnosis of Suffering (Way of the Coyote) and the desperate pathos of Sickened Samsara. Lauria and Turner have created a record that any fan of heavier rock music should check out – whether your taste is metal, industrial, prog rock, or something else. Nothing is Real pushes the boundaries enough that Transmissions of the Unearthly is truly difficult to really fit into any genre, but at the same time is a real music journey to embark on.

I hope you enjoy Transmissions of the Unearthly.

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