Harold Nono is an Edinburgh-based solo artist with a penchant for unusual electronic music. The title to his third album may suggest an excursion into tired easy listening territory but ‘To The River Lounge’ is actually an exercise in quiet but inventive instrumentals, albeit one which is accompanied by an omnipresent sense of unease.
Most tracks feature the common themes of experimental, almost Teutonic electronica and Oriental female vocal samples. ‘Lullaby’ is a haunting opener which reminded me of the mysterious work of Argentina’s Mus. Yet at the most undemanding level, ‘Rain’ is the closest we get to easy listening; a lush ambient melody set to running water, which wouldn’t sound out of place at a health spa.
After this brief lull, ‘A Third Of Birds’ is where the music really shifts from the mildly diverting to the faintly unnerving as the music – in its own subtle way – starts to close in on the listener with its noise of animal chatter and choice string effects. Then ‘Tacky Tigers’ enters the fray; a disarmingly pretty, twinkling tune suggesting a particularly warped but wonderful update of Disney’s ‘Fantasia’, whilst ‘A Bigger Spider’ suggests the threat of more horror to follow. Finally, the chilling child vocal samples for ‘Lightbox’ ensures the mystique is maintained right up until the end of the record.
Although there are comparisons to be made with other musicians, Nono seems to be in a field in his own. ‘To The River Lounge’ has its own distinct feel which sets it apart from so many other exponents of instrumental music.
Mus, To Rococo Rot