digital download, self-released, 2010
“An externalised manifestation of deep internal examination” is possibly the most succinct description of Fiction City’s “Nova” – an EP made up of four tracks and mixes thereof, namely, “Rain”, “Neon Face”, “Nova” and (unsurprisingly) “Introspective Activity”. The music plays more as a backdrop to the accompanying prose – personal philosophical rants and purges that, more often than not, descend into spirals of self-pity that border precariously close to whining. It is this that lets down the record: instead of carrying itself with an air of semi-goth electro sensibility, “Nova” takes on more of a feeling of an undergraduate art project, utilising music as a vehicle for a cathartic, expressionistic outlet. It also, sadly, lacks the polish which ‘professional’ music has, reinforcing the impression of a student assignment rather than something to be taken seriously. Perhaps this is an unexpected side-effect of having four people working on different aspects of the creative process but never quite managing to mesh their separate efforts, giving the whole a somewhat disconnected, vague atmosphere.
In its defence, the inspiration drawn from “The Collector”, by J. R. Fowls, may contribute to the angsty, teenage rebellion vibe contained within the record: any concept based on fictionalised serial murder, torture and cannibalism is inescapably destined for gloom and doom. On the plus side, this will no doubt add appeal to the targeted audience, but it will also limit exposure appeal to any others.
But it’s not all negative; if the pedestrian approach is overlooked, it soon becomes obvious that actual talent has been engaged and awoken in the assembly of the music. Sequencing, construction and arrangement are all crystal clear (especially on “Rain”) and tight, as is the mastering and levelling of the completed tracks. The instrumentation is also, for the most part, well defined. The occasional ‘Casio-esque’ synthesizer melodies are overshadowed by some really solid classic EBM sounds, reminiscent of early Noise Unit. Also, Archos Impulse’s remix of “Introspective Activity” is a spanking gorgeous, glitch-ridden reworking, even though the other remix tracks (by Saro and DJ Frenklin) seem somewhat out of place and don’t add much value to the album.
— David van der Merwe