There's been no shortage of crossover in techno between industrial and post-punk aesthetics, with a resurgence of interest in the sound coming from entities like Tropic of Cancer and Vatican Shadow. It's usually an interesting intersection, drowning techno formulae in splattered synth sounds and walls of drone. Nihiti are a New York band whose 2010 debut clawed at the bleeding edges of electronic music. Their second album, For Ostland, not only carries vague conceptual gravitas but sees the band throwing their rockist characteristics to the wind—a breeze made from the grainy wheeze of old analogue synthesizers, in fact.
If you were lazy, you might call For Ostland a post-rock record, but that's not entirely accurate: its pulsating thrum ("Ankhmazes") and foreboding atmospherics are much more in line with those techno-leaning acts outlined above. Not to mention the titles referencing Nazi Germany's occupation of Eastern Europe. Indeed, there's something about the few vocal tracks here—"Sun Shatterer"—that have a detached, distorted vocal sound somewhere between Joy Division's more militant moments and even more militant early industrial like KMFDM.
With the exception of the affecting "Ghosts and Lovers," with its barely-there glowing embers of a pulse, For Ostland isn't much of a song-oriented record. Rather, it's an exploration of the texture of treated guitar, a journey from peaceful ambient to blissful guitar licks ("Eisenbahnstraße, January 1st 1946") to harshly fragmented industrial ("My Fantasy Has Gone Too Far"). The album's blistering ending run is a marching sturm und drang where the searing guitar feels like a razor cutting through flesh—thin and exact yet burning all the same. These are key examples of what Nihiti bring to an admittedly well-exercised equation: with more than just drum machines and analog equipment at their fingertips, they create soundscapes that not only gurgle and hum but branch out into organic tangents leftover from their harder rock roots.
There are several moments where Nihiti sound like they're summoning the ghosts of other groups on For Ostland. Maybe that's partly due to the band's revolving-door policy, more about sonic experimentation than solidifying a recognizable identity or image. Their guest of honour on this particular record is Berlin's Viktor Timofeev, an artist whose explorations of modern urban sprawl and decay seem to haunt For Ostland, which sounds like it could easily soundtrack the dark and abandoned streets of the post-wartime ruin it seeks to evoke. Alternately uneasy, bloodthirsty and painfully beautiful, For Ostland is a conflicted record that adds an unexpected new voice to the modern technoid post-punk dialogue.
Tracklist: Nihiti - For Ostland01. Siobhan's Song For Jakob
02. Ghosts And Lovers
03. The Heart's Not
05. Eisenbahnstrasse, January 1st 1946
06. My Fantasy Has Gone Too Far
07. Not These Demons Again
08. Sun Shatterer
09. Joining The Fire
10. Campfire Ashes
11. Hymn Divisions