Nicole Marxen – Tether

Just the other day as I was checking out a few bands on Bandcanp I scrolled down to the section with recommandations from the artists and/or recommandations based on fans of who evers page youre currently on when for whatever reason, this image caught my attention. Despite its dark colouring it stuck out somehow and gave off a certain intriguing aura which combined with its title drove me to click on it and be taken onto the page of Nicole Marxen for her debut solo EP Tether released in February of 2021. Not knowing what to expect I hit play and waited. What I heard within these four tracks was amazing, haunting, dark electronic music which after having listened to the EP a couple more times over the past few days I still cant truly compare it to anything else, that said Im also not exactly known to be the biggest fan of what I`d call dance oriented music but I digress…

The titular opening track builds up in a crescendo and as the voice of Nicole Marxen begins her “Meditation on the grieving process” along with gentle swirls of noise before the beat kicks in with hypnotic, seductive rhythms, yes this release may be based on grief however you can dance as you grieve. Not to make light of the subject matter but as the saying goes we could be crying in the club.

As the track progresses new, intresting elements and sound design appear, some more int the forefront than others. Its truly taking you on a journey into its own dark world as Nicole howls..or weeps along before a sudden ending and were given "Moonflower". Ambient sonic textures with a single kick drum hitting the rate of a slow heart beat accompanied by what one might interpret as a rapid ticking clock untill it breaks into a funereal dance complete with wonderfully layered yet seemingly simplistic synthesis , a steady beat, a pulsing bass line..If the opener track didnt cause you to immediatly fall into a state inbetween love and melancholy this one certainly will. Yes this could be heard as part of a DJ set at any Goth night but this is the type of song that just has that indescribable aspect that hits you straight your heart, guts, nuts, whatever you got going on. Its a slow, almost gentle punch that leaves the mark of sorrow burned onto your flesh.

“Bone/Dust” opens up with dark, filthy bass lines and Nicoles stunning voice, luring you into the dark like the Siren of myths. A manic repetetive kick drags you deeper down untill youre surrounded by a choir of countless dark beings of an unknown species. This is minimalism done right, I think…Untill about half-way through when what I immediatly want to refer to as rock based drumwork kicks in along with melodic, dramatic synth lines, rising and falling like waves appear and vanish just as quickly.

The final track, “Wild Again” begins, at this point you can feel the sorrow setting in, the slow, deep, crushing feeling is perfectly mirrored by the music which creates the feeling of dropping from deadly heights. Aural doom is the term that manifests from my unconcsious throughout this closing track, truly, it feels like an ending but perhaps it could also hold a sense of hope? As I currently do not have access to the lyrical content Im not able to analyze them and am left to judge by the feelings the music creates in me, how my body, mind and soul respons to the frequencies continually being fired towards me before all of a sudden its over. The end has arrived and though it was harrowing at times you`re left with the morbid wish of it continuing for just a little more.

I absoloutely urge you to check out this release, it is also available on cassette via Bandcamp and we all know how important it is to support the arts so if you can spare the cash, do consider grabbing the tape, even if you don`t own a tape player and just want to support Nicole Marxen in her exploration of grief.

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