It’s good to know that the Nest project is still going strong and Body Pilot is an exemplary collection of gorgeously crafted gaseous ambient excursions.
[Release page] It’s probably fair to say that Body Pilot is the most eagerly anticipated of the Serein imprint’s 2011 Seasons series of ten-inch EP’s. It is the third release from Serein label-owner Huw Roberts and one half of Deaf Center, Otto Totland’s Nest project, following on from the critically acclaimed album Retold; itself an expanded version of their self-titled Nest EP released in Serein’s original net label incarnation. For many, in fact, Retold felt more like the sequel to Deaf Center’s genre-epitomising Pale Ravine or Neon Lights than the heavily improvised, restrained and drone-prone Owl Splinters.
It seems that Nest too have applied a level of restraint that’s almost excessive to the four pieces on Body Pilot, the results being also heavily drone-based, albeit in a lighter, more expansive and ambient style than the aforementioned Deaf Center album. Not that this is a bad thing, in fact the most drone-laden piece on the EP, “Koretz’s Meteor,” is probably the most successful, moving and atmospheric on Body Pilot. The central theme of the record is flight, and like the vast swirling expanse of cloud pictured on the evocative cover artwork, the perfectly titled “Stillness” conjures vistas of uncanny motionlessness the like of which can only been seen from extreme altitudes. A sustained drone like that of a distant air raid siren recalls The Orb’s “Blue Room,” creating a constant still point as we float slowly through these expansive banks of frozen cloud and eddies of chill wind, a plangent piano solo and muted strings emerging from their billowing forms as the only visibly moving objects.
“The Dying Roar” opens with sustained, edgy strings and closes with more solo piano but is strangely cold, detached and could easily have sat amongst the dark and brooding tracks on Owl Splinters. “Koretz’s Meteor,” on the other hand, is peppered with field recordings and samples, camera shutters click and insects chatter amidst vaporous atmospherics before the bass drone widens and warms, sunspot glare creating shimmer and steam. At the other end of the scale you have “The Ultimate Horizon,” a cold, slightly nasal feedback drone that bleeds into the room along with coarse, rasping sighs, a sub-bass tone rising and falling like great engines, the looping of an unanswered telephone sample at the end recalling Deaf Center’s Neon Lights.
The only trouble with these flawlessly produced heavyweight ten-inch EP’s is that they leave you hungry for more, and since they are rarely a taster for an album release to follow, that hunger is never quite sated. This is particularly true of Body Pilot which feels like an incomplete document and lacks that defining emotional involvement that Retold possessed in spades. That said, it’s good to know that the Nest project is still going strong and Body Pilot is an exemplary collection of gorgeously crafted gaseous ambient excursions. One can only hope that this collaboration is not over with yet.