Nyx Nótt – Aux Pieds De La Nuit (4 stars)

Nyx Nótt – Aux Pieds De La Nuit

Former voice of Arab Strap presents a gorgeous piece of instrumental work under a new moniker

Renaissance noodler Aidan Moffat has now turned the attention of an increasingly eclectic career towards work made in his sleep. Or when he should be asleep, at least; named after Nyx and Nótt, two Greek and Norse goddesses of the night, the former voice of Arab Strap has harnessed his insomnia to create this gorgeous piece of instrumental work, whose title translates from French somewhat less glamorously as 'At the Feet of Night'.

Moffat's voice doesn't appear at all on this record, unlike the way it's used as the prominent instrument in his albums created with Bill Wells and RM Hubbert, and this has the dual effect of taking the listener out of their comfort zone as far as his work is concerned, and having them reflect instead upon his abilities as a composer. There are eight songs here, each constructed electronically, yet filled with the organic richness of sampled and synthesised analogue sounds and instruments, and the effect is mesmerising.

The opening 'Mickey Mouse Strut' shuffles upon a loose jazz drumbeat, the accompanying trumpet, saxophone and keyboard lines so swathed in reverb that they appear to be wafting in through the windows from a rain-washed city street past midnight; 'The Prairie' uses similar techniques, yet in a despairing minor key; and 'Words of Wonder' fuses a deliberately discordant, hip hop-timed groove enmeshed with a wordless, operatic female vocal, the effect calling to mind DJ Shadow.

There's a rattle of wooden percussion and eerie nocturnal wildlife to 'Damascene Slap', a time-locked wail of saxophone swing to 'Theme From', and an unsettling fusion of jazz bar blues and Throbbing Gristle echo and distortion to 'Long Intervals of Horrible Sanity'. It's a record to lose yourself in the emotively nocturnal whole of, rather than select individual tracks from, and by the sounds of it an audition on Moffat's part for future soundtrack work. If he gets it he'll deserve it, for tonal echoes of Tangerine Dream's Sorcerer, Vangelis' Blade Runner and Hildur Guðnadóttir's Chernobyl can all be heard here.

Out now on Melodic Records.

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