Review: Nar/Vegas, Split (Self-Released, 2017)

I'm starting to lose track of Vegas' surprisingly constant outpouring of limited edition vinyl releases as of late. This latest (for now) installment quietly appeared on Discogs sometime in the past week or two with no formal release announcement, and finds Vegas teaming up with mysterious harsh noise wall act Nar (credited to an individual known simply as "C").

Despite having amassed a hefty discography since 2012, I believe this split marks my first exposure to Nar, and I'll be honest: even before I realized that "harsh noise wall" was an actual genre, I was always pretty tough to please when it comes to this niche of experimental noise. I have to confess that I don't quite "get it." Is it layered? Yes. Is there texture? Absolutely. Is there feeling? Sure, to a very limited extent. But, that's just my perspective. It's a bit too one-sided for me. "Within Myself" offers up five minutes of essentially the same thing with almost no variation whatsoever—as its genre would imply: a literal wall of constant, dense distortion. I'm not trying to be an ass, I'd just like to hear some movement. That being said, this performance video from a few months ago leads me to believe that this approach is perhaps more impactful in the live setting?

Vegas offers a nice change of pace with "I Like to be Lectured" (listed on Bandcamp as "When I say nothing, I say everything.")—a significant departure compared to their recent slew of releases with its melodic, almost post-punk type of sound. Distorted basslines are mixed more toward the left channel; a simple, repetitive guitar melody is mixed more toward the right; while keyboards and percussion sink to the background. The vocals are sort of a shouted whisper—typically drenched in effects—and swirl in and out as the track progresses. With repeated listens, it's quite memorable, and certainly one of my favorite tracks from the group's latest run, so this unexpected experiment has certainly paid off.

Both sides of the thick, lathe-cut EP end in a locked groove, and the vinyl is housed in a traditional two-sided foldover cover that's printed quite professionally. I have to credit Nar for including excerpts from Plato's Timaeus on the inner sleeve, as that does at least provide some additional insight into their contribution, and such details really do make a difference.

Limited to just 25 copies, as far as I can tell the release is only being sold via Discogs at the moment. It's a bit pricey, but... that's how it goes with these super low-run outings, and I must say that this is one of the nicer-looking lathe-cut 7"s I've encountered. I'd have to assume they'll sell out within another week or two, so don't hesitate for too long if you're interested!

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