Red Nightfall - Late in the Fever EP | Album Review | By Volume

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Red Nightfall

Late in the Fever EP

“…listening to music can instantly transport me backwards through time, or even across oceans.”

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Author: on August 30, 2013
7.1

August 11, 2013

I love that the simple act of listening to music can instantly transport me backwards through time, or even across oceans. Listening to Dark Side of The Moon still takes me back to the floor of the room in my parent’s house and that fateful evening ten years ago that I stayed glued to my the hi-fi system all night, my teenage brain not able to properly process the new sounds I was hearing. Kid A takes me to the top of Bray Head just outside of Dublin, the moment that “How To Disappear Completely” defined my adolescent existentialism instantly re-created in my head each time Thom Yorke croons “I’m not here, this isn’t happening”. And I still can’t hear Neutral Milk Hotel without remembering that run down hostel in Quito that I was staying in when Aeroplane proverbially clicked.So many of my favorites are intimately linked with specific memories –- snapshots of moments from my life. Such is the case with Red Nightfall’s self-titled debut, which I obsessed over during a wonderful week in Cape Town last year. When I hear Patrick Illian’s warm bass tones or Addison Siemko’s personable vocals, the memories come flooding back.

I see myself bar-hopping on Long Street, or at the top of Table Mountain, soaking in the absolutely unbeatable views. I blew all of my savings on an amazing year-long backpacking trip (no regrets) but it’s left me heavily in debt, the possibility of travelling again unrealistic for at least the next few years. It’s wonderful, then, that with the simple push of a button on my iPod, I can close my eyes and re-experience some of the best moments of my life. This phenomenon is rather easy to explain: the obsessive way in which I devour new music results in memories that are intricately linked with what I was listening to at the time. Imagine my surprise however, when Red Nightfall’s follow up EP was able to illicit the same sort of nostalgic connection from the very first listen. I left South Africa over a year ago, and yet as soon as Siemko delivers the opening lyrics to “Culled in Die” I find myself in immersed in a half-genuine/half-artificial memory of relaxing in the common area of Long Street Backpackers with a nice mug of rooibos tea.

“Late in the Fever” displays the same sense of restrained urgency that made their debut such a wondrous, engaging piece of music, while avoiding sounding like simply an addendum. Red Nightfall have settled into their niche with their second official release, perfecting their brand of melancholic indie-rock. It is pensive music, discussing openly the nature of sadness. There is a yearning in Siemko’s voice as he helplessly recalls a fading memory on “Chant”: “Heard a distant serenade, a crying shame / I knew him for a little while, he gave it all he could / Why can’t I remember how to mend a break? / Paralysis, let us not agree to it.  / He’s gone, he’s gone for good.” The lyrics are somewhat ambiguous, never specifically going into detail by having some sort of consistent narrative or describing characters, and this only adds to the mystique surrounding their unique sound. “Late in the Fever” is music to philosophize to (preferably in solitude) – it never asserts anything as truth, but instead solemnly explores the depths of apathetic depression.

The band suits the lyrical tone perfectly by effortlessly cultivating a somber mood with their brooding instrumentation, and their clinical restraint is certainly worth noting. What makes some of their songs so rewarding is the way in which they slowly build up, gradually combining all the different pieces of the song together to work towards a gratifying final flourish. Closing number “Inheritance” is a great example of this, Welland Sin’s percussive work navigating the tune through a number of quickly switching motifs before warping into a hypnotic instrumental outro.

Red Nightfall have, quite early into their career, defined their sound in a manner so convincing that most long-active rock bands could only dream of. Their distinct deep bass tones and desperate vocals have the ability to send me on a journey through time and space, even in the case of their new album, which has no nostalgic memories attached to it. “Late in the Fever” exists in the same sonic space as their debut LP, and while the familiarity is definitely construed by me as a positive trait, the flip side to this is that they run the risk of being accused of settling into a groove without the intent to change or explore new territory. This is certainly a valid point, but one that probably does not apply quite yet.

They stepped into the studio for the first time in over two years just hoping to shake off the cobwebs and get something else released. They have certainly accomplished this by delivering to their fans a new set of songs to devour, each one a satisfying cut of subdued rock. It is nothing new or ground-breaking, but it does not need to be. It is the perfect representation of their current sound, and the ideal set-up for their next full-length. One would hope that they mix it up with their next release, but even if they don’t, the sound that they have tapped into has the ability to transport this listener to his favorite hostel in South Africa, limbs lazily draped off the side of a hammock. While that might not say much in the way of objective analysis, there is something indefinably wonderful about the way that music can tap into something personal and illicit warm memories. Red Nightfall’s music does this for me, and the experience I get while listening to their new EP is something that I would not trade for all the objective quality in the world.

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