Nothing Inside - Three Releases
By Marcus Pan
Rome Clegg takes front role in Atlanta,
Georgia's dark-synth act, Nothing Inside. With the help of Stephanie Stinson,
Mike Coleman and Chris Camillo Ni have, over the past two years, put out an
unprecedented three CDs in this short time; all full length and all with more
than a dozen tracks each. Their next release, Decay, is currently in the
works. Rome and crew use a dark, soothing sound to create his work - like
voices in your head spun to a usually slow beat. Vocals, when used, are tinged
with synthetic whispering and echoes. Many of the tracks by NI are very
complicated, twisting computeresque sounds into themselves and sending them out
in waves that grow like a lake of ripples as the songs move forward. They still
remain self-managed, self-produced and self-promoted even after delivering to
their darkwave fans three full lengths and a number of compilation and remix
Much of Clegg's work hovers between darkwave/industrial and
trance. He can soothe and control in one track and then immediately launch into
an uplifting barrage of muted beats and sliding keys. He stays with this format
throughout his recordings, keeping a constant sound and similar tone throughout
tracks. He uses samples and sound clips only sparingly and where appropriate.
The songs will usually start out slow and swaying and slowly build higher in
intensity, complication and sounds - more being added to the scope of the music
until a crescendo of pulsating aural imagery is reached. Occasionally he'll
trip around in a more experimental vein, but will still typically return at
some point to the darkwave sound he's established and continues to prevail
Originally released in 1995, End
was remixed in late 1997 and early 1998. Originally a cassette release, Clegg
had the songs remastered and remixed before placing them on this CD release.
End has sixteen tracks and together they consist of nearly 73 minutes of
play time - a rather large amount for any release. The music contained on
End is a soothing, darker sound, somehow moving quick enough to keep a
unique flow but not speeding up too much and losing the ambience. It's a very
subtle sound that he keeps throughout this one. The CD is about half
instrumental, ambient melodies and half with lyrics. Rome's vocals are always
whispered and the melodies are filled with sounds of strings giving many of the
tracks an orchestral feel without losing that computeresque/darkwave sound.
Empty, the first track here, is a good opener, giving
you a feeling of what to expect on the rest of the CD. Vocals are whispered and
floaty, an almost underwater effect. The synthesizer melodies are subtle yet
remain highlighted enough to keep the song away from monotony. Another of my
favorite tracks here is Matter of Faith. Like Empty, this track
does have vocals. The bassline here is rummaging and deep, mixing extremely
well with the bouncing melody. "Loving you was always a matter of faith," Rome
says - and isn't that the truth? Hate is one of the last tracks on the
CD, a bonus track previously unreleased until now. This is a faster combination
of sounds with a swift beat that moves along quickly, computerized synthetic
melodies leading into Rome's token whispering voice.
Host contains an angrier mood
than the End release does. He moves into a harsher beat and more
computerized sound here. Some areas even smack of experimental noise - but Rome
applies a lot of control over the sounds so that it's not lost in the musical
ether. Originally conceived as an EP dedicated to William S. Burroughs and his
founding of the beat movement, though outside influences turned it into
something more. Nothing Inside underwent lineup changes and "strange illnesses"
during the creation of the CD, says Rome on the jacket, and you can distinctly
hear the anger that he claims prevailed during this time. Rome goes on to say
that Host "sounds the way it was intended to
so no excuses." None
none at all. Included with the work of Nothing Inside are
tracks from a number of side projects that members of NI were involved with.
Band names include Stiff Kittens, Hate Turned Backwards, Mice In Tights,
Karakul, New Dawn Fades and Tears of God.
Shatter starts out the CD with a sample that states,
"Ladies and gentlemen, there's no cause for alarm." But I don't know. Following
this the synthetic chords, pounding drums and metallic bass kind of make you
feel otherwise. "Rome's not happy today
all hell's about to break loose on
the speakers," is what I thought. And then the experimental metallic scrapes,
vocals that unlike End are no longer whispers but growls, and whistles
blared like sirens of impending anguish. Following Shatter however, the
moods and sounds of the further tracks on Host turn back to the moody,
dark sound that End made me familiar to. But Host seems stronger,
with a swifter beat, more metallic sounds and with more of a rumbling feel than
the ambient style of End. If End set an ambient mood for the
soul, then Host wrenches the soul away. You can hear them treading on a
more experimental path this time around. Another track on Host that I
particularly enjoy is that contributed by Mice In Tights, a side collaboration
between Rome Clegg and Chris Camillo. Incinerator is the tenth track on
the CD and is a moving, wonderfully melodic piece that I have been known to
jump to whenever I pop Host in the CD player. It's a song that takes you
through the darkness and right up to that edge where the light begins - it's a
hopping tune with eerie rhythms and moving basslines, but sounds somehow happy.
Not My Little Pony happy, but more like the Smurfs found a way to make more
chicks happy. I find myself wanting to hear more from Mice In Tights. Another
highlight track is the fifth, Fade, a metallic groaning track with
pounding beats and floating chord progressions. The vocals are near
imperceptible - but fortunately they're printed on the jacket. I would have
liked to be able to understand them however - they are drowned out by the
rhythm, noise and succumb to overuse of vox.
A step even deeper into
the ambient darkness is Stranger. It's very similar to the work on
End with less of an orchestra/string sound and more of a
synthetic/computeresque sound. The framework of the sounds is the same,
although many of the tracks move along at a faster pace than most of
End's work. Over 73 minutes of work here - 17 tracks in all! At the
bottom of the first page on the jacket, Clegg writes "Puppy mode?" That's a
good description as any - although Rome mixes in more ambience and mood than
electro-industrial. Rome's (and Stephanie's) vocals throughout Stranger
are much more tinged with effects than on End. Here they apply echoes so
much that the words meld into each other and become, instead, a drawn out
vocalized chant-like sound rather than separate words or lyrics themselves. One
long "oh" or "ah," so to speak.
The first of my favorite tracks is the fifth, Blur. A
moving song with a toy-piano melody and the bright, wispy vocals of Stephanie
I'm pretty sure it's her anyway. The song ends with the truth in
words, "such a fragile thing as love
" I also must report that Macross
over at In Perpetual Motion LOVES this track and wrote me about it the other
day. Expect to hear a lot of Nothing Inside on IPM
(http://www.digitalangel.com/ipm) as the weeks roll by. In Slip (track
7), you're treated to a bright melody of bells. The melody gives no clue as to
the heavy bass and drum track that's to lead the song into the first set of
lyrics. Sometimes the song names don't seem to jibe with the content of the
track - Roadkill for example contains sounds that evoke images of
niceness moreso than dead things on a highway. Sure the lyrics may involve dead
things, but again you're not sure - a whole lot of echo effect is applied to
them so each word runs into another and blends together. There are a group of
very good remixes on here as well - Empty, Descent, Monster and
End from the End album. The remix of Empty is particularly
good, sounding almost as if the song was brightened - like Rome ran it through
the wash with bleach.
Nothing Inside treads somewhere between
Skinny Puppy noise-experiments and Mentallo & the Fixer electronic rhythms.
Vocals are almost always distorted, many times to the point of not being vocals
anymore - but vocals are not Nothing Inside's main draw. It's their complicated
rhythms and electronic ambience that is their suit. If you're looking for
something completely new, this isn't the place to go. What Nothing Inside do is
take ethereal, ambient and incorporeal sounds and breathe into them an
electronic rhythm and life. Nothing Inside is to electronica music what Dr.
Frankenstein is to exhumed corpses
Inside, Box 8521, Atlanta, GA, 31106
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