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Nü Sensae - Sundowning

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Artist: Nü Sensae

Album: Sundowning

Label: Suicide Squeeze

Review date: Aug. 9, 2012

Vancouver fast-and-loud trio Nü Sensae’s approach is simple: lots of distortion and plenty of screaming. And it works. The basic template of many of these songs evokes Drive Like Jehu’s Yank Crime: begin at an already aggressive level, and then shift into a raw scream to up the ante. Vocalist and bassist Andrea Lukic can handle both sides of the spectrum: a lucid declaration of facts and an infuriated, embittered shot of raw emotion. Her bass looms large in the mix, though guitarist Brody McKnight is also capable of summoning up energy via his instrument -- it’s some of the most visceral guitarwork I’ve heard since Part Chimp’s 2005 album I Am Come. And the interplay among McKnight, Lukic and drummer Daniel Pitout is also impressive: consider the surf-laced first half of “Whispering Rule,” or the way the song shifts, first into fuzzed-out chaos and then into concentrated rage.

For all that this trio can musically convey fury, however, it would be a mistake to suggest that that’s all that’s going on on Sundowning. “Swim” moves from catharsis to catharsis, but it also ably plays Lukic’s vocal modes against one another; the tension it creates isn’t just from the accelerating drums and squalls of feedback. And “Curdle the Cream” opens relentlessly, Lukic’s lyrics delivering accusations: “You breathe the ashes / What happens to your soul?” And yet, given this band’s fondness for atmospheric introductions, it’s also significant that they know when to be direct; Sundowning ably shifts moods over its 14 songs, never leaving its audience comfortable.

The floods of noise come rapidly on Sundowning, and the album closes on a cathartic note, sinewy rhythms enveloped in torrents of feedback. It’s an uncompromising album, abounding in noise for the sake of noise rather than noise for the sake of bliss. It’s furious and raging and exhausting, and the end result is exhilarating.

By Tobias Carroll

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