REVIEW: The Nomad – Perilous Times
In a post post modern twist, one of NZs foremost dubhop producers, The Nomad (Daimon Schwalger), has taken the all conquering dubstep format full circle by taking it back to its roots with his brand new album Perilous Times.
On standout tune “Deeper” he takes the 140bpm beat blueprint and uses traditional reggae instrumentation in a retrospective, yet fresh way; think melodica, trad organs, guitars and dope vocals from Sarita and Jornick. Definitely more on the Augustus Pablo tip than Katy B or Skreamisms. Elsewhere there are lovingly crafted heavy straight up reggae riddums aplenty, some darker dubstep styles-the title track is a standout, sounding suitably apocalyptic, some blues soaked hip hop, and deep twisted downbeat.
While the the dubstep influences are pervasive, The Nomad has a lighter touch than most, and his ability to craft actual songs rather than simplistic floor filling dj tools shines through. His dubwise roots provide the impetus for his sound, so that it is not merely another variation on a formula, but a unique antipodean flavour. Mt Eden he is not. His choice of collaborators is impeccable, as his history will attest, using wicked vocalist’s throughout, as is his creative partners, initially with Tiki Taane, and recently with Oakley Grenell, otherwise known as O.G.who is a polished producer in his own right and (sidenote) from NZ musical royalty with brother Redford, a founding member of Shapeshifter, and dad John, a NZ folk legend.
For some context, He was a founding member of the 1st wave of quality NZ dub and electronica, which also included The Black Seeds, Salmonella Dub, Breaks Co-Op (Zane Lowe from MTV Europe and Radio1 UK, and NZ hiphop pioneers Urban Disturbance), Pitch Black, Bongmaster (the fore runner to Fat Freddys Drop), and Rhian Sheehan. Through the Loop compilations, initially a cover mount CD for music magazine, a new sound was established. It spanned House, D&B, Dub, Hip Hop, Trip Hop, IDM, Folk and many more genres, to spawn many amazing artists, and ultimately develop it’s own semi genre free zone, somewhere between Kruder and Dorfmeister, and Roni Size. The Nomad’s own outstanding contributions include the sublime “Time Is Running Out,” which features the best ever use of metal guitar in a downtempo beat, the stone cold kiwi classic “Where are you?” reworked here, and more recently “Letz Play,” off of his previous album proper “Quinessence” 2008, a quirky, impossible to genre classify, banger.
So, yet another rock solid album from a genuine local legend. Not being a genuine full-blown dubstep devotee myself, I’d have liked a little more variation in the tempo and beat style of the album as a whole, and for me it’s generally those songs which don’t fit easy classification that ultimately satisfy. That said, for what it’s worth it’s a great listen, equally at home on your lounge soundsystem, in a forward thinking club night, or getting the full headphone treatment. Enjoy at your leisure.