«Nox Tenebrae» – darkness of the night – is a collaboration between three Danish left-off-center musicians – former BBC composer-in-residence Nicolai Abrahamsen, avant-garde composer-guitarist-lecturer Jakob Thorkild and the classically-trained, electric Messer Quartet. Abrahamsen and Thorkild composed «Nox Tenebrae» as a dark ambient-drone meets doom metal suite that references innovative minimalist composers as Terry Riley, Steve Reich, drone composers as Ryo Murakami and Tony Conrad as well as seminal metal pioneers, connecting Black Sabbath to Sunn O))). Messer Quartet repertoire ranges from Aphex Twin to Led Zeppelin, and last year the quartet played together with German pioneer industrial group Einstürzende Neubauten.
Abrahamsen devised this composition as a «trip into the eternal night and into your darkest self… a kind of dark mirrors… you have to meet yourself in even dark. As a kind of night meditation». Thorkild describes his role in this composition as producing «electrical voltage», using the electric guitar as a sound generator that may have been produced by a synthesizer.
The two parts of «Nox Tenebrae» bridge between changing, opposing currents, still, to suggest a coherent structure and dynamics. On the first part the chaotic feedback noises of Thorkild guitar emphasize the gentle yet highly disciplined and patient, repetitive patterns that are played by the Messer Quartet. Later, Thorkild’s rhythmic metallic elements are veiled by the distorted strings of the Messer Quartet and all drown in a thick electric storm. Slowly, in this dense, dark storm more and more nuanced sonic events are shaped, still thorny and tortured ones but also with more and more colors.
The second part is more convincing and sound as both Thorkild and the Messer Quartet found the right frequency and the right balance. Thorkild guitar suggests primal-metal riffs that are spiraled into beautiful, minimalist, cyclical patterns by the Messer Quartet, both solidifying the disciplined dramatic narrative. The explosive feedbacks of Thorkild guitar are answered by meditative-lyrical playing of the Messer Quartet. When Thorkild riffs become even more primitive and brutal the Messer Quartet strings mirror his intensity but also suggest a peaceful conclusion to this arresting, dark sonic meditation.
Jakob Thorkild (el.g); Andrea Rebekka Alsted (el.vio); Jeanine Markley (el.vio); Katarzyna Bugala (el.viola); Johan Krarup (el.cello)