Nathan Gray Nthn Gry on LP
Sinister urges, carnal desires, and the darker impulses deemed evil by superstitious, rigidly inflexible ideologies will, in reality, offer transcendent ecstasy. When primitive, animalistic hunger is channeled through ritual, rudimentary tools and unrestrained expression, the pulse shared between living things and objects emerges victoriously.
Nathan Gray explores these simplistic, basic, fundamental needs through music, summoning the basic motivations inherent in humankind's search for meaning and processing them through the tools created by the necessity of creative expression. The invocations contained on the 4-song Nthn Gry EP and its forthcoming extension, which doubles both content and vision, offer an arcane mix of the organic and the mechanical.
The voice of internationally revered, unrelenting social justice rabble-rousers Boysetsfire, and blasphemous punk upstarts I Am Heresy, at last indulges his darkest passions as a solo artist, armed with dark folk balladry and the industrialized doom of his creative partner in crime, Daniel E. Smith. Gray's musical alchemy combines stark, emotional acoustic guitars and cellos, and vintage sounding piano with throbbing, soul-stirring electro noise, often built upon traditional kick drum, snare and crashing cymbals.
Lush, post-industrial orchestrations bend, dance and seamlessly merge with minimalistic dark neo-folk, giving rise to a challenging yet instantaneously unforgettable sound. Clips of ambient atmosphere that once powered the between song vibe at I Am Heresy shows are now fully explored, exposed and weaponized against false tranquility and mediocrity. The result is an incandescent, ethereal howl against the void, inescapably renewed but hauntingly familiar to those weaned on Death In June, Rome, Portishead, Skinny Puppy, Dead Can Dance, Joy Division, and the surrealist cinematic landscapes of David Lynch.
Gray's debut offering is bookended by an Alpha and Omega both demonstrative of the rich dynamics the singer's solo work is all about. Wolves kicks off the proceedings with an aggression that's neither punk nor hardcore, but unashamedly abrasive nonetheless. "Wolves" is a celebration of hate, anger, and anxiety, negative feelings that can work as positive forces when correctly harnessed. Love is all you need? Hardly. Dive into the embrace of the dark and work toward a common, triumphant understanding.
"Corson" wraps things up conclusively, tearing open the most nakedly emotional side of the whole endeavor. It builds with dramatic, stylish intention, before ultimately erupting. It's both meditative and subversive, taking the listener on a journey inside Gray's ritual chamber, evoking the same wonder and awe found in religious cults, and dark magic. Like any ritual, Gray's music offers a chance to expose, to purge, and to rise up again.
Fittingly, a pair of songs reworked in the acoustic setting for the expanded version of Nthn Gry are collectively called The Ritual Chamber Sessions: "Tomorrow" and "Baptismal Rights" are boiled down to acoustic guitar, cello, piano, and haunting vocals. Brand new song "Wayward Ghost" builds upon a skeleton of bare bones acoustic wizardry, fashioning rhythms from feedback, noise and esoteric electronics.
As free from commercial aspirations, careerist objectives, and empty music-industry-pleasing platitudes as ever, Gray approaches his solo work with the same vigor and all-or-nothing dedication he's poured into Boysetsfire and I Am Heresy for years. Gray's solo music strips down the often complex and nuanced polemics of his best-known work to their primal core: Don't resist natural instinct. Expose it. Embrace it. Celebrate it. The cleansing fire is hope. The plague has come to heal.
Nathan Gray Nthn Gry Track Listing:
3. Baptismal Rites
4. Corson (An Ode to Vital Existence)
5. Wolves (Swallowing Filth) (Daniel E. Smith remix)
6. Tomorrow (Ritual Chamber Session)
7. Baptismal Rites (Ritual Chamber Session)
8. Wayward Ghosts