“Silence is golden” is a maxim that holds much truth when it comes to an ensemble of musicians playing together. An overzealous band member can easily disturb a carefully crafted build-up or a well-balanced composition. As the Scottish author Thomas Carlyle once wrote: “Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule.”
This principle is most aptly illustrated by the sophomore album of German post-rock act Noorvik. Bearing the appropriate title Omission, this record was written as an exercise in the infamous loud-quiet dynamic, with the aim to make the quiet moments even more understated in order to make the louder and faster passages more impactful.
A quick look at the tracklist of Omission seems to suggest that the album is split into two thematic halves. “Floating” and “Above” naturally tie together in an aerial theme, while “Hidden” and “Dark” come together in obscurity. The song titles are a good bearing for the imagination when listening to the album, even though the differences in sound between the four songs is subtle. “Floating” features an etherial mid-section with an airy atmosphere created by the syncopated interplay of two guitars, while “Above” really seems to be moving upward with its successive ascending notes.
Despite the daunting eight to ten minute-length of each song, Noorvik manage to captivate the listener with surprising ease presenting four sonic journeys through different moods and landscapes. However, the true beauty of this album lies not so much in its respective diminishment or embellishment of the quiet and loud passages, but more so in the interplay between the two.
“Noorvik have delivered a record that is spectacular in its impressionistic qualities and which constitues a great step forward from their debut album.”
Through the repetition of chord progressions and slightly varying melodies, Noorvik manage to create a thoroughly coherent impressionist vision for each song and this allows them to unapologetically stop in the midst of a section and switch dynamic multiple times in one song—a feat which is normally perceived as amateurish, but which Noorvik use with true grace.
The quick changes between soft dual guitar interplay and loud post-metal riffing do indeed enhance the effectiveness of both types of dynamic, and it is this element of surprise that keeps the listener on their toes while listening to Omission. The closing part of “Above” features an unexpected outburst of heavy riffing featuring a rhythm and melody completely unrelated to the preceding song, while the blast beats on “Floating” and “Hidden” really make those songs soar.
On Omission Noorvik make use of metal stylings in a very calculated way, simply to break up the atmosphere created by clean and acoustic guitars, but they do so without excess and this is what makes the heaviness feel appropriate in these parts. During the quiet parts the guitars smoothly intertwine, gently contradicting each other’s rhythm yet coming together at just the right time to move on to the next melody.
On first thought, this beautiful interplay between guitars makes the rhythm section feel redundant, yet on second thought they simply feel overstated. Particularly the bass doesn’t need its gritty sound all the way through the album and a lot of quiet parts could’ve benefitted from a warmer tone.
Moreover it could be argued that the quiet moments on Omission would be more effective if they werea lot quieter and just longer lasting in general. Both “Floating” and “Hidden” have an intriguing ambient intro that would have had more impact if they were longer and perhaps in the middle of a song, and “Dark” ends abruptly, but not abruptly enough to truly enhance the subsequent silence.
Speaking as such, the band’s ultimate goal of exploring the extremities of the loud-quiet dynamic is interesting, but their search could have been taken even further. Silence is indeed the element in which great things fashion themselves together, and it is in these silent moments that Omission falls short but also shows the greatest promise. Noorvik have delivered a record that is spectacular in its impressionistic qualities and which constitues a great step forward from their debut album. With its carefully layered instrumentation and effortlessly changing dynamics Omission is a sonic journey that captivates the listener time and again.
This album is… **interesting.
Omission will be released on October 4 through Tonzonen Records. The album is available for pre-order in vinyl and CD formats via the Tonzonen Records webshop.