TIDES FROM NEBULA- ‘From Voodoo to Zen’

Tides From Nebula shrunk to a three from a four-piece before recording this, their fifth full-length, but the pare down actually seems to have powered up their music.
Oh, the Polish post-rock outfit have always favored the epic and atmospheric but, at its best, ‘From Voodoo to Zen’ crackles with new electricity and soars seriously spaceward.

Opener ‘Ghost Horses’ swells from near silence to a powerful crescendo, and although you could describe a few thousand other songs from this genre in the same way, this is far from your standard instrumental album opener. The initial synth tone is brilliant and brooding, like some alien spaceship coming in to land, and each element layered on top- fidgety percussion, marching drums, a big finish- feels like it falls into exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Comparisons could be drawn with other stellar sci-fi-inspired post-rock outfits but the ominous intensity on show is better put on par with the cinematic work of Nine Inch Nails, or even Hans Zimmer.

Onward, and the big bass waves of ‘The New Delta’ and the stabbing synths of ‘Dopamine’ are magical moments, and the title track is a dreamy triumph. And despite the absence of vocals, these tracks talk to you too. Tides From Nebula conjure up images- zero-gravity romance, c-beams glittering in the dark, stars exploding- with an ease above and beyond most of their peers. It’s a truly rare skill.

The Tides trio don’t quite maintain the same quality throughout. Some tracks meander, some passages drift, almost always starry-eyed but far less compelling. Befitting its title, ‘Nothing to Fear and Nothing to Doubt’ sounds hopeful and a little too sincere, and while the bright ‘Eve White…’ shows off the excellent production job here, it does feels like a conscious effort to end the album on a positive note where digging deeper and darker might have left a bigger impact.

The requisite epic passages are present and correct here then but, quite unlike Tides From Nebula’s previous work, much of ‘From Voodoo to Zen’is cut through with threat and melancholy. There’s less stargazing bliss, more of the oppressive eternity of deep space. It’s a welcome addition to the band’s sonic arsenal and something they should lean on as they journey forward.

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