23 Sep 2020
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n1ghtmar3cat - Album Review: n1ghtmar3cat

19 Aug 2019 // A review by Jamie Denton

Better known as the drummer/backing vocalist of Auckland-based rock band Villainy, Dave Johnson has stepped out from behind the kit with his solo electronic music project entitled n1ghtmar3cat. With its sights firmly set on indie-electronica, n1ghtmar3cat’s eponymous debut album is an ambitious, sonically-rewarding, and highly immersive experience. Throughout the album, the clean, soaring vocal skills and highly capable, yet experimental songwriting is deservingly center stage.

The album kicks off with the sublimely surreal, yet lush Who Are You. Hypnotic layers of vocals bounce playfully off each other, creating a fascinating soundscape punctured only by the heavily filtered, minimalist rhythm. Despite its relatively short duration, clocking in at just 1 minute 44 seconds long, Who Are You, does a great job in catching the listener from the start and dragging them into this soundscape world that Dave Johnson has created.

Nestled near the middle of n1ghtmar3cat’s debut album is the curious one-two moment of the wonderfully strange, familiar yet psychedelic Weak Man and Tell Me. Slices of dirty, distorted electronic noise combine effortlessly with gentle, smooth vocals and highly melodious synth-lines, creating beautifully fragile tracks that placed so closely together make for a highly engaging and immersive middle-album push. This is music that you feel deep within your soul, as well as hear so vibrant.

Throughout my numerous listens to the album, I have been constantly wracking my brain trying to work out who this reminds me of, but every time just as I am about to grasp it the songs twist away, and it continues to elude me. And some of those twists are just magnificent, and so left-field. Lost and Found provides some of the greatest twists in this album, lurching between unexpected sounds, yet corralling them into a cohesive whole somehow.

Changing gears yet again and finishing up with the more straight-ahead, well for n1ghtmar3cat anyway, pop-infused Promises, this is a consistent, interesting, cohesive, experimental, experiential, immersive collection of seven crisp, well-produced tracks. While unfortunately short with a 24-minute run time, n1ghtmar3cat is an album, and project, that requires, and rewards, multiple listens.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About n1ghtmar3cat

As n1ghtmar3cat, Dave Johnston (Villainy) delivers an immersive debut single from his forthcoming self-titled album. Lost and Found highlights the many distinct yet impeccably integrated facets of his production, composition and songwriting arsenal.

The captivating debut single draws listeners in through a textural, bass-driven sonic experience – which at times takes centre stage, while at others perfectly undercurrents Johnston’s sleek, hook-laden vocals.

“I wanted the production style to weave in with the lyrical themes”, says Johnston. “The track deals with feelings of uncertainty and anxiety within a relationship, and the changes in instrumental energy aim to draw you into that headspace.”

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