This could all become a little silly: the second outing of Nyx Nótt, the instrumental project of Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat, so named after two mythical goddesses of night, was originally conceived as 20 different blink-and-you’ll-miss-them television themes. As a concept, it’s not so much a break from his bleakly unspooling debut album Aux Pieds de la Nuit as it is a clifftop plummet. But realising the gimmick, Moffat instead decided to lure these songs out from their 90-second hovels, turning them into full compositions more deserving of an album’s gravitas. Still, he conceded, “if the first Nyx Nótt album was like looking out on dark prairies before dawn, this is more like a walk through a neon Soho after a few cocktails.”
Across the eight tracks that outlasted Moffat’s culling, the snapshot of some cinematic whiplash remains. Here we are on the long road through thrillers, pornos and swashbucklers. Album opener ‘Docudrama’ hints at the late ’90s/early ’00s shoegaze of Film School or Serena-Maneesh, only it’s slowly populated by bulletin-style synth arpeggios rather than shredded guitars, and pre-set strings that demand a very specific outrage rather than blurry-eyed choruses. Between the tumbling upright bass of ‘Caper’ and sleazy intonations of ‘Hardboiled’ and ‘Porno’, you’d be forgiven for calling this a jazz record, although the muddy flood of saxophone and clanging cymbals is more Bernard Herrmann than Kenny G.
But in all, this feels like little more than a master mathematician doing the easy sudoku on their morning commute. It’s very to-the-brief, but then what’s a little showing off?
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