Nickolas Mohanna: Transmission Hue
Low Point

On Transmission Hue, his first widely distributed full-length CD (preceded by CD-R releases under the Vakhchav alias on a number of other labels), Brooklyn-based Nickolas Mohanna offers a personalized take on the krautrock and kosmische musik genres. The CD's five purposeful tracks check in at a svelte thirty-nine minutes, and the emphasis is clearly more on spacey dronescaping than club-directed rhythmning.

Chugging with locomotive determination, ever-multiplying swathes of pulsating electronics leave wiry trails across the dark expanses during the opening shuttle voyage “Dialogues.” The natural-sounding pluck of the kalimba provides a diametric contrast to rippling synthetic waves during the more ambient-styled slow-burn of “Gishiki,” whereas the repeated clatter of tumbling percussive noises pushes “Thin Ice” into a whole other direction, one more in line with field recordings-based sound sculpting. More in line with classic kosmische musik moves, burning tones shudder and flare in “Of Lethe,” swelling in volume and intensity as they do, and seething vapours violently sputter before decompressing into a calm electrical drone during “Configurations in Placing Sky.”

An occasional field recording (or at least what sounds like it) gives Mohanna's music a twist by adding a real-world dimension to what's often a wholly synthetic form. Also distinguishing his music is that fact that he eschews software programming, opting instead for a hardware-based approach that uses guitar, modular analogue synthesis, and electronics as tools. While Transmission Hue doesn't represent a re-invention of the cosmic genres, such production-related details enable Mohanna to bring a slightly different perspective to the forms in question.

September 2010