Jan Nemeček may drift around the fringes of the bustling Belgrade electronic scene but in many ways he draws from the inner soul of eastern European experimentalism. The sound designer, producer, underground clubland fixture ,Norbu label founder and electronic musician is a restless creative, thriving on the possible and energised by the communal DIY aesthetic around him. Besides being a generous Soundcloud sharer, Nemeček has also formally released albums that map out his progress as an artist who is beginning to write his very own commentary on the state of things and beyond. ‘Fragmented’ in 2014 saw him take the organic route using micro-sampling, acoustic instruments and found sounds for a series of intense vignettes. Then moving onto more mod synth rhythmics for ‘Emergence’ a couple of years later was something of a sidestep, as 2018’s ‘Recurrence’ swung back to more ambient layers and delicate woven electronic detailing.
So now with his new collection ‘Dissolved’ out now via Refractions, part of the intrigue is where this next instalment will lead us. Maybe we could have bet on the single word title but perhaps not on the scaling up of ambition and vision that Nemeček injects into these new tracks. It’s as if he’s taken a whole range of his sound generating tools out of the box, the modular, granular, sample or programme based and arranged their use collectively. The result is impressively orchestral and cohesive.
Lengthy opener Tunings 1 – II is as good a place as any to lay down your marker. An oceanic swell of warm tones comes into view, rising layer by layer then breaking into a cathedral organ surge. The sequence repeats, deceptively coloured each time with electric charged flashes, echoing melody and the tingle of synths, a processional that’s grand but also gracious. As the piece eases down to a gentle piano motif brushed with pastoral mellotron-referencing, you wonder where such an all-consuming overture can lead.
That really is where Nemeček’s subtle musicality comes in. He can maintain the ambience and space around all these tunes while giving each it’s own personality. Take Organ Dissolution, where the pontic lyre of Branislav Jovančević casts an ancient spirituality through the fractured electronics and fundamental drone pacing. There’s a ghost in this machine groaning behind the shadows, setting off percussive whispers and lonely chimes, unhurried but impactful in a Jessica Moss kind of way.
Talking of post-rock, Nemeček utilises a similar momentum on the shimmering On Subtle Horizon. Among the arcing creature calls of electronica and looming vocal sounds an undercurrent of jangling ,insistent guitars flows. Conjuring up such Godspeed elevation with matching emotive power is a measure of the symphonic range realised on ‘Dissolved’. Hoover Phase pitches somewhere darker, Nemeček’s intuitive sub bass instinct giving ballast to a stoic drone illuminated by sound fragments. Then in contrast he takes Shards to a place of melodic and tonal variation. Vocals climb, hinting of a dream wave melody, while guitars and harps bring a Biosphere beauty slightly ruffled by Nemeček’s industrial sound sources.
‘Dissolved’ is an album that in many ways sums up his way with deconstruction and re-assembly. This is not a wrecking ball approach but one which uses fluidity and slow erosion to shape something new. Maybe Nemeček’s insights as a sound designer/ software developer allow him to get more deeply inside the codes of programmed music while avoiding the rigidity that can sometimes weigh down electronic works.
Perhaps it’s that struggle between technology and our autonomy that shaped the album’s incisive closing track True. An automated voice, apparently ‘recorded’ a decade ago, makes a speech to their ‘ dear ones’ over a stark piano and tense synthesised strings. As the volume builds there’s promises of ‘no more work’, ‘glorious retirement‘ and being ‘on the threshold of a magnificent journey to the stars’. It comes with the assurance that all of this is ‘true’. Echoes of Musk’s recent boasts and spoken in the surrounds of engulfing electronica, it’s telling end to an album that asks all the right questions. You get the feeling that Jan Nemeček’s music is somewhere we’ll be going for inspiration and answers plenty more in the future.
Get your copy of ‘Dissolved‘ by Jan Nemecek from your local record store or direct from Refractions HERE