Without ever dropping a drumbeat over its hour-and-forty-minute runtime, Not Bleeding Red still keeps the listener engaged and entranced.
Analog synth, Berlin-school ambient from the founders of Front 242? Sign me up. Nothing But Noise is the name of this new project, put together by Daniel Bressanutti and Dirk Bergen, the latter of whom left F242 in 1983, just after Geography was released. They are joined by Erwin Jarbot, and the trio’s first released output is a massive double album entitled Not Bleeding Red.
“Marcel Proust [VLGEM]” sets things off in style with a beatless throb and pulse that moves through dark bass-heavy drones on its way to a triumphant piano lead finale. And that’s just the first nine minutes of the set! “Gravity” establishes itself with long, sustained chords and washes before introducing a four-way interlocking synth lead about halfway through. It’s propulsive and exciting, with a great balance of retro and modern sound elements. “Mooglish,” as the name suggests, is a Moog workout which introduces some chiming, delayed Michael Brooks-esque “infinite guitar” riffing and provides a nice lead-in to “Mass,” the 20-minute epic that closes out the first disc. “Mass” pulls all the elements together—as Daniel B says in this definitive NBN interview at The Quietus:
What we wanted to do is start where we thought Krautrock, Tangerine Dream and things finished, and say, ‘What would those people do today to continue?’ And we want, if we are able to continue, to go further.
“Mass,” for me is the fullest realization of this aesthetic: by turns soothing and discordant, hypnotic and arousing. The pervasive delay effect on the main pulse causes a slapback effect that slowly builds into a frenzy then suddenly drops out, leaving us blinking and shielding our eyes as angelic rays pierce through the gloom. After a serene interval, the initial sequence recapitulates itself, building and shifting until the exploration is complete—the last couple of minutes close out the track with quiet, distorted drones receding into the distance. Comparisons to Tangerine Dream’s 1974 Magnum Opus “Phaedra” are hard to resist, so I won’t bother: this is indeed space-synth mastery “gone further.”
The second disc continues in similar style; there’s a welcome mixture of shorter, focused pieces like the pizzicato tinkling of “Puzzle Cosmique” with long-form jams like the ominous “CK” and the typographically complicated yet sonically lovely “S2cond S7ven.” “CK” is split into two movements, the first a noisy guitar-driven piece somewhat cheekily named “242 Hurtz,” followed by “Vorspiel,” a closer-to-form synth jam. “S2cond S7ven” pulls in the only vocal samples I could discern on either disc, some warped and mangled alien speech snippets which get subsumed by huge sweeps and washes and, eventually, a deep marching bassline that could have jumped off a Pete Namlook FAX release. Finally, “Silenzio Monofoniche” and “3.14 Sequence” complete the cycle with, respectively, a heavily delayed square-wave thumping number and, in an entirely appropriate conclusion, a giant maximalist layer cake that builds to what seems like fifteen or twenty synthesizers all ticking to the same clock.
All in all, the project has ably achieved its goals—the tracks are varied enough to differentiate one from another, but they all build on the initial templates laid down by Nothing But Noise’s predecessors in analogue-synth exploration. Without ever dropping a drumbeat over its hour-and-forty-minute runtime, Not Bleeding Red still keeps the listener engaged and entranced, and the live video linked on the website gives a tantalizing preview, as Daniel B says in the Quietus interview, “we are looking further into what that music could become.”