Nyx Nótt – Aux Pieds de la Nuit
Aidan Moffat continues his recent flurry of activity with a strong collection of instrumentals under a new moniker
Often overshadowed by his singular lyrical style and manner of delivery, Aidan Moffat has been developing an increasingly idiosyncratic style of instrumentals under his L. Pierre moniker for almost as long as he’s been releasing records. Here, under his new Nyx Nótt alias, Moffat doubles down on the unease that has lay beneath the beauty of his previous instrumental work. This is an earthier sound, that of music creaking under the weight of its own horror.
The majority of the record is built around gently rolling jazz drums that give the record, particularly on openers Mickey Mouse Strut and The Prairie, a stumbling, queasy rhythm of moving through unfamiliar environments into something unknown. Things are initially hopefully on the former, then increasingly fearfully on the latter.
The Prairie, in particular, shines. With its Morricone guitar line and clusters of synth stabs it has some of Forest Swords' nocturnal drift, but the tune develops in a looser, less straightforward way, instead being completely overwhelmed by mournful strings. This seemingly intuitive structuring gives the songs a quiet unpredictability akin to dreaming, leaving you tentative to connect with every groove knowing full well it could dissipate at any moment. It’s a truly uneasy feeling.
This is not to say there isn’t beauty on the record, far from it. The organ coda on Shirley Jackson On Drums is a gleaming, wondrous thing, but, set against the sinister piano runs and two-note string wail that precedes it, it feels like the half-imagined oasis of some beleaguered protagonist. Similarly, the momentous brass on Long Intervals of Horrible Sanity has an epic scale to it but the way it trails off and slips into dissonance makes the whole composition feel like a marching song for an army who can’t even pretend they’re going to win.
Moffat has talked of the record being simply about the night, or ‘crepuscular music’, but it never feels like an escapist project. It becomes an expression of the bleed between the unconscious and the world around us, through often beautiful, always unsettling music.
Listen to: The Prairie, Shirley Jackson On Drums, Long Intervals of Horrible Sanity