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Nathan Fake - Providence


Nathan Fake - Providence

8/10

Nathan's last album, 2012's Steam Days, achieved that holy grail of electronic music: it sounded like it was named. It genuinely sounded like a steam engine slowly warming up and building momentum, until it was powering along with grace and unbelievable strength. Providence is either protection from a higher power or preparation for the future, and it's tough to say which definition Fake had in his mind. The album is slightly less melodic than his previous work, and possesses a raw power that comes across as spontaneous. Even on tracks like "RVK", which burble along quite slowly, there's a sense of purpose underpinning every synth stab or riff.

And it's with purpose that Fake undertook this project. He revealed he's been experiencing some trying times during the past 5 years, and mentioned that the process of Providence was "cathartic". This is viscerally displayed in the music. Nathan's genre is sometimes described as IDM - Intelligent Dance Music, but that suggests a cynical and rigidly calculated method to creation. This record benefits from the emotions and life experience of the creator. Some artists can get up on a stage, close their eyes, gyrate to the music, and drag an audience on an emotional journey with them. Some artists sit at an old synth and let their heart and soul bleed through their fingers. Take "The Equator & I". It follows the insistent "DEGREELESSNESS", which could be an evocation of the fear and anxiety surrounding a lack of purpose or path in life. "The Equator & I" wonderfully juxtaposes that anxiety with the rare but important ability to let go, to have fun, to revel in the moment. It recalls hours spent in a car jamming to your favourite song, while a snowstorm rages outside. The sobering "unen" could be the down after a sugar rush of natural endorphins, with all the calm and tranquillity of a benzo ride.

There's more of this. "CONNECTIVITY" marries an aggressive, rapid synth riff with light taps of a hi-hat and, as a climax, an explosion of electronic noise that mimics falling into The Matrix. The primer for this is "Radio Spiritworld", an aggressive Mad Maxish view of a dystopian society. All of these tracks seem informed by Fake's recent touring schedule. Spending a lot of time on stage, bowing to the whim of an audience who may not be open to the more dense, dark aspects of electronic music (example: playing Les Ardentes next to Massive Attack, Booka Shade, Giorgio Moroder, Panda Bear, and Vitalic). There's a push and pull in Providence that seems prompted by this experience. While the sequencing makes perfect sense, managing the emotion of a crowd is a key part of being an electronic artist (or any live artist), Fake seems to also reject the allure of big ticket sales and fist-pumping bro's, instead constructing a wall of noise that will seem impenetrable to those unfamiliar with the depth of emotion that can be mined from this music with a good pair of headphones, and a little back story.

Nathan Fake is not a producer. Some electronic artists are, but some are fully-fledged, bonafide writers of music. Providence is written from the heart, but the beauty is you can tap into these emotions and ride those waves with Nathan, or you can switch off, put the music on in the background, and allow it to soundtrack your own menial but meaningful tasks.

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