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. The vampiric quality comes through in the music as much as the alias and album title (think of blood as 'nectar' for fanged 'demons').
The record is strikingly patient and meditative, even to the point of being hypnotic (hypnosis or mind control being another power oft-attributed to vampires). Orm is not afraid to leave a lot of instrumental space: "Korridorer" descends wordlessly into a deep, dark place (and also transitions well into the vocal-led "Illdrop"), while "Morgon" starts with 90 seconds of gentle, austere swells to set the mood. A similarly desolate droning part occupies the song's fourth minute as it transitions smoothly into a different section that creeps up on you as if it were already in your head the whole time. The piano sounds on closer "Flor" demonstrate how small details can pay off, too.
If you've ever painted your fingernails black, or if you feel like wandering further down the gothic rabbit hole that Chelsea Wolfe opened up a few years ago, then there's probably some part of you that'll love this record. It's best enjoyed away from sunlight. (Kranky)