Nebula 3: Another Way

Aeropuerto member and Abolipop co-founder Israel M established his Nebula 3 project at the end of 2002 and followed it soon after with the Trip to Triton … and Nereida EP. Moving away from its ambient electronic pop, the full-length Another Way finds him fusing the diverse influences of his adolescence—synth pop, new Wave, and electro—into a moody, ‘80s-styled mix that sometimes sounds like Gary Numan with a Mexican accent (exemplified by Israel M's enunciation of “My own streets, good times I remember” in “My Streets”) and elsewhere recalls Depeche Mode, New Order, and The Cure.

Regardless of the era or genre invoked, the success of song-based material like this hinges on its melodic strength, and Israel M proves himself reasonably deft in that regard, especially on “So Different” where Raquel Astorga's soft whisper nicely complement his own much deeper vocal style. The instrumental “Take it Easy” offers a nice showcase for the other guest, Esteban Testolini, whose guitar playing brings a lush elegance to five of the album's ten tracks. Israel M presumably adds guitar elsewhere, with the dark atmosphere of “Just One Time” nicely distinguished by its brooding layers of guitars and synths. The mood isn't entirely gloomy, and in fact the album's second half is like the warm summer morning following the cooler night. “Afternoon” weaves brightly dancing keyboard patterns over a skipping bass-and-drum rhythm while the lullaby interlude “Lunama” is even prettier. The best song is “My Streets,” a softly swinging bit of dreampop boosted by lovely vocal counterpoint and even lovelier hooks. In fact, it and the closer “Viewpoint” push the Nebula 3 style more in the direction of micro-house pop, and, consequently, update the album's sound—whether deliberately or accidentally—in the process.

September 2007