Release Date: May 19, 2017
Record label: Kranky
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Dream Pop, Ambient Pop, Darkwave
Stockholm-based artist Irma Orm is releasing her stunning debut album as Demen, titled Nektyr, from relative obscurity. That a new artist is relatively unknown doesn't come as a surprise, but even her label, Kranky, has very little to offer, except that "she worked alone, and progress on music was slow but steady." But for all the mystery surrounding it, Nektyr is a musical treat. While some coverage references Cocteau Twins (presumably for the reverb-y textures and ethereal vocals), Demen's sound is far more subterranean. The gorgeously dark atmospherics sound like if Enya was a thousand-year-old vampire living in a cave.
Nektyr is the work of Swedish songwriter Irma Orm (aka Demen), who was signed to Kranky after anonymously e-mailing the label links to three songs. The album took a few years to materialize, which might not be the right word, given how vaporous and ethereal it sounds. The songs themselves take their sweet time to progress, typically starting off with vast, glacial droning before slow, heavy drums come in (if they appear at all).
A heady brew of serious-faced ambient electronica and choral gloom, Swedish producer / vocalist Irma Orm a.k.a. Demen pours her soul into a fitfully engaging debut, Nektyr. Fans of both Clams Casino and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult will find much to admire on this epic mix of huge, echoing drums, shivering synth and Eastern-rite vocals. While occasionally monotone in its delivery, there's undeniably something in the way the producer slashes across chasms of roomy echo with the regular cuts of caterwauling high tones.
Cocteau Twins aside it was This Mortal Coil which came to represent 4AD's original "house style" - perhaps even more so, considering it was Ivo Watts-Russell's own group. The band took influence from ambient music and psych, although without seeking to create a wholly "peaceful" atmosphere - the feeling that This Mortal Coil invoked was deeply melancholic; the kind that tints your surrounding environment with a solemnity. It's an ambience simultaneously depressing and calming, even perhaps imbued with a kind of ancient quality - their song titles 'Gathering Dust' and 'Filigree & Shadow', for example, certainly seem to invoke this kind of imagery.