Published May 27, 2016Churches make for popular music venues across many different Halifax festivals, and OBEY Convention is no exception. They make for convenient, comfortable and sonically supportive spaces, particularly if the performing artist benefits from the same sort of quiet reverence that, say, a Sunday morning of prayer demands.
There's nothing quiet about Nadja, the Berlin-based drone duo of Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff, but their opening-night OBEY set was certainly revered. Originally from Toronto, the two musicians craft long-form compositions (more than 20 released over the past decade) that combine the reverberating waves of shoegaze with the thunderous force of metal and doom.
With Baker on guitar, Bukareff on bass and a black-clothed table of pedals between them onstage, Najda assembled 45 minutes of massive sound at Thursday night's (May 26) show. Each layer of distortive force piled on the one before it, backed by pre-programmed drumbeats that added an almost unnerving uncanniness to the band's sound.
Though Fort Massey is a Christian church, Nadja's music is a predominantly Old Testament experience, or perhaps Book of Revelations music. There is beauty, yes, but mostly the experience is one of awe, and even at times fear. Whatever high notes were in the mix last night were weighted down by the sheer heft of wall-shaking low end, but even at its most dissonant, there were still melodic patterns echoing through the church halls. If the apocalypse were seeking a soundtrack both mighty and terrifying, it could hardly ask for better.