Nommo Ogo – Space Cross

Nommo Ogo - Space Cross

12″ vinyl, Record Label Records, 2008
www.nommoogo.org

An experimental project with a fondness for acoustic instruments, abstract soundscapes and drones, Nommo Ogo is a collective of multi-sensory artists and musicians with, interestingly enough, Alaskan origins. In addition to their recorded material, core members Djynnx Ogo, Eyebrane and Higerous Johannes view the performance of their live electronic and electro-acoustic music as an essential characteristic of their work.
“Space Cross” is a vinyl release consisting of two tracks, each about fifteen minutes, however I feel the listening experience misses that key live element. Side A holds “Induction”, a mostly subdued, jazz-inflected and rather melodic composition in which acoustic elements play an obvious and integral role. Side B is “Shadowout”, a plodding and bass-infused piece with a less satisfying progression than its partner. Both employ indistinct vocals, but to different ends. The former has something like singing early on, which reappears later in a devolved form as the instruments themselves become heavier and monstrous undercurrents threaten to break free, wreaking havoc on the structural composition. The latter contains mutterings throughout, a mirror of sorts to the monotonous pulses and sliding atmospheres, with stronger, syllabic utterances interjected here and there.
“Induction” is surely the superior of the two. Its softened percussion, in combination with a quiet groove provided by melodic guitar and glitch, sets a nicely psychedelic stage before building dark energies with rattling tones and heavier beats enter later in the track. As the encroaching chaos ratchets up the noise, jeopardizing the established order, it is somehow held in check, delivering a cosmic miracle to the listener that is in turn negated by a fit of gibberish at the end. Overall, “Induction” is subtle, deliberate and an enormously engaging part of this release.
“Space Cross” suffers with its B-side. The only really pleasant aspect of “Shadowout” are the penetrating, deep tones in the latter half of the track, enduring when everything else has temporarily fallen away. Otherwise, its gloopy trudging and mindless sprays of static noise seem to clog a natural flow, leaving the imagination stagnant. Perhaps this would not be the case were it heard in a remote outdoor setting, per Nommo Ogo tradition, but mediocre “Shadowout” simply does not stand up to this pairing.

[5/10]

— Dutton Hauhart