Blue and green record exploding into shards

Various Artists
The Nyquist Theory LP

Hackpen describe themselves as one of the last truly independent record labels. This is somewhat proven by their total disregard for policy, niche, and genre when they sign bands as diverse as Toupe, Bonemachine, Los Skeletones, and the Stick Finlays.

Further evidence takes the form of The Nyquist Theory, a compilation of bands that might not have captured a record deal, but who Hackpen thought were good enough to pop on a record to send to the masses in aid of Amnesty International.

Eclectic electric opener, ‘My Soul’, is the ambient creation of York’s Khopek. The disturbing appeal of ‘Save my Soul’ ranges around a desolate musical landscape before a pulsating bassline joins piano and drums in a more soulful trance section.

The Sways bounce along with a rather more folky acoustic feel with ‘Clockwork Farm’. Although the vocal is a little nasal, the overall effect is a slick track that builds up both in terms of volume and, to a lesser extent, speed. The chilled Pink Floyd style solo towards the end of the track adds a bit of spice to the song.

Blending a rock and roll style riff with a drum loop and some synth, 96 Tears add a static-edged male vocal to an inspirational track called ‘Keep a Clean Nose’. The guitars buzz around like a trapped fly and a warm woody bass sound adds something constant to the otherwise continual sound changes.

The theme of electronic samples continues in Oom’s ‘Black Heart’, which overlays inside-a-womb noise with a delicate acoustic guitar and hypnotic vocal. A haunting break leads to a big chorus in the style of Lunascape, with pounding bass contrasting with a beautifully pure voice.

‘Otter’ from Rusty Sheriff is a an old school sampled track that slices various loops together to create a funky soundtrack that includes double-bass, lots of brass, and more scratching than a monkey with eczma.

‘The Saddest Ever’, from Daughters Courageous, is an epic track with enough emotion to make even Margaret Thatcher weep like a child. The song builds up several times to the chorus before throwing everything back down to start again. If you watched a Disney film as a kid, this is the goose-bump equivalent of the Mongoose getting re-united with the Puppy after having had to trek across a continent or two and then finding out that the Kitten isn’t dead after all. Phew!

Eleven Mile Creek’s ‘The Bridge’ contains moments that sound like Deacon Blue and The Levellers amongst a soulful folk song that takes American style rhythms and sounds and adds a bit of a Scottish flavour.

Some sexy French vocals introduce ‘Amerika 4 Ever’, which is an industrial piece of work that rests heavily on a pounding rhythm. The mid section of the track recites various crime statistics related to stalking in the USA.

Anon’s ‘Nothing Left to Say’ is an odd combination of run of the mill samples, odd vocal stutters, and a huge burp. Some heavy breathing and funky guitars spice things up a bit, although the overall effect created by the track is that of someone with a bit of spare time and a sampling program on their computer.

‘Six is Better Than Eight’ is a brooding rock track from Detwiije, which uses a very spartan mix of instrumentation to create a Cure-style introduction that eventually becomes a massive wall of noise with a shredded guitar sound. The absence of vocals has no bearing on this track, which has so much going on already that lyrics would be a distraction.

Benefiting from the intensity of the previous track, The Cliffhanger slot on the end nicely with ‘Hit the Horizontal’. This song feels incredibly familiar right from the first listen and drops heavy hints in the corner of the eye of influences that disappear when you try to look straight at them. 

With a blend of vocals that bring to mind the Delays and some guitar and bass to cement in the reference, ‘The Storm’ is a great indie track from Ormondroyd that ebbs and flows around a flexible song structure that doesn’t need a chorus or any particular hook to be an effective attention grabber.

Deerpark round things off with ‘Burning Photos’, an intertwined acoustic song that benefits from a vocal that matches the cello’s woody tones. The cello is joined by more strings as things progress, lifting the chorus and adding an expensive feel to the track.

The record is fairly split between the electronic and sampled music and the guitar-based music with a nice chunk in the middle that has both mixed together.

With Hackpen donating both time and resources, and artists allowing their records to be used royalty-free, you should already be feeling a warm glow even before brilliant tracks like Oom’s ‘Black Heart’, while ‘The Saddest Ever’ by Daughters Courageous and Ormondroyd’s ‘The Storm’, add some goose-pimples and tug on the old emotional controls.

Written by Smith on

Stuart 'Saur' Smith was a prolific writer for The Mag throughout the magazine's lifetime. He combined a day job of temporary office jobs in London with a nightlife of trawling the capital's music venues looking for talent. As well as writing about music, he was a session musician who featured on a number of singles in the 90s. Today, Stuart is a Chief Writer for Phonotonal.
Stuart Smith

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