Monday, August 27, 2007


Performing in what looked like an abandoned warehouse down by the East River in Williamsburg, Brooklyn last night, Toronto-based, experimental-rock duo Nadja seemed to improvise two ornate, ragged songs. The atmosphere, which could best be described as a hipster-y crowd standing and sitting in a cleared-out room—much like you would do for a house party so your idiot friends don’t ruin your furniture—worked with the pair, which consist of composer/guitarist/noise manipulator Aidan Baker and bassist Leah Buckareff. Also, it was infernally hot outside, which seemed to add to the urgency with which they played. Both songs started with nearly quiet, static-laden noise, highlighted by occasional drum machine beating, and built to impressive heights of melody.

Although Nadja define themselves as doom metal (their email address starts with nadjadoom, after all), they cover too much ground to just qualify as doom metal. (Personally, I hear a lot of later Swans, Godflesh and My Bloody Valentine in their sound, although they might argue with the influences; also, my favorite Nadja album is Bodycage, which is one of their heavier albums.) Using violin bows on their guitar and bass, both members did everything they could to conjure new sounds from their instruments. At one point, Baker began picking the strings behind his fretting hand, making a really high squeaky sound, and spent time twiddling knobs on the guitar pedals he had on the big platform before him. Throughout the whole set, Buckareff kept her back to the audience, although she seemed to respond when the audience clapped. Neither sang during the set, but the music easily stood on its own. At the end of their second song, the music got louder and louder until it completely stopped cold. It was abrupt and was the perfect way to end their set.

After Nadja, dark, psych-rockers Bardo Pond took the stage. There were a lot more people watching them than Nadja, but they didn’t sound as good as their old records. It was just something about singer Isobel Sollenberger’s voice (although her flute-playing was spot on.) The band sounded great, though, and when in the adjacent room they sounded even better because it was less distorted, and Sollenberger sounded better as the night went on. The two bands were a perfect match and the warehouse atmosphere only made it better.

Nadja’s official site is, although Baker’s site seems updated often here: For more on Bardo Pond, visit, or

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