Boomkat Product Review:
Lisa Fabian, Matt Robin and Eddie Brooks are NEY, and together they’ve made one of the most compelling debut albums of the year, formed around workshops at Glasgow's infamous Green Door Studio whose educational programmes have massively impacted the city’s cultural landscape. In the tradition of music born out of extended and improvised recording sessions - specifically Talk Talk’s ’Spirit of Eden’ - NEY shimmer and sway through thickets of atmosphere, drawing on elements of jazz, ambient, spoken word and desert blues for an hour of gorgeous dreamweaving we can’t recommend highly enough if you’re into anything by Mark Hollis/Talk Talk, Bark Psychosis, Grouper, Voice Actor, Svitlana Nianio or ssabæ.
Glasgow’s Somewhere Between Tapes series has already introduced us to a trio of riveting new artists at the intersection of electronic experimentation and songwriting; with debuts by Alliyah Enyo, Chantal Michelle and Man Rei all requiring your full and immediate attention. NEY, however, leap into another realm entirely with a debut album so deep and fully realised that when we first played it in the office the usual din quickly descended into a deathly silence - followed by a clamour of interest in what the hell had just been playing.
Glasgow School of Art graduate Lisa Fabian began work on the album by capturing her thoughts, dreams and memories in a series of sketches, field recordings and voice notes. Joined by percussionist Matt Robin and guitarist Eddie Brooks, the trio set about working Fabian's loose fragments into a more coherent - if foggy - narrative. Dubbed directly to tape, they layered a patchwork of textures that Fabian followed with intuitive responses, shepherding the flow with Swedish and German language singing and spoken word.
Drums crash and roll like a rousing pagan ritual while Fabian's voice lifts from the angular bruit like murmurs from a lucid dream, piercing the permeable membrane between the spirit world and our own. Her close-miked recordings sit in the mix like an additional layer of instrumentation, drifting in-and-out of view to affirm the music's inherent liminality. Fabian plays harp and nyckelharpa too, while her synthwork serves to amplify the album’s emotional swell.
On the half hour long 'Listen to the water’, the trio cut into Fabian’s field recordings like a block of marble, on what they describe as “an intricate mosaic of sonic fractions”. On one of the side’s most arresting moments, a medieval Swedish lullaby is sung in a tunnel under the Glasgow River Kelvin during a rainstorm, with traffic passing overhead. Fabian leans into the natural echo of the tunnel, weaving her vocals around raindrops in a way that perfectly encapsulates the gentle interplay between the performer and their environment - a sequence so moving and perfect it feels almost ordained by higher powers.
Prismatic and endlessly deep, it’s a real late-year highlight.