Enamored with wanderlust and the creative palette of such groups as Front 242, NIN, 808 State, and Ministry, a subsequent progression to a dancefloor-oriented aesthetic followed, as he developed a love for disco, jazz, dub, soul and international sounds- the injection of which resulted in an obsession with, of all things, house music. Today, cryptic, and mysterious as ever, Nicolaas Black’s ‘Chrysalis’ project saw the artist releasing one track a week during the summer, working as individual pieces of a bigger puzzle. Comprised of 10 unique tracks, and filled with collaborations, the LP is beyond a shadow of a doubt his most ambitious project, showcasing the artist’s wide range of expression, as he dabs in classic house, deeper cuts, techno hybrids and even a pastiche reinterpretation of one of humankind’s most cherished treasures.
Opener ‘The Lift’ sets the wheels in motion, as it’s frontline percussion resembles cogs and gears turning, powering the machine, as lush vocals contrast against a solid club groove. For the second act, Black collaborates with David Isaac on a stellar tribute to The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’. Under ‘The Sun’, particles float in slow motion, sun-soaked, as tribal motifs carry the track into wondrous breakdowns in which samples of the classic tune take hold. This collage has been making the rounds in sunrise sets for years now, making it a priceless addition to ‘Chrysalis’.
On third base, Nicolaas presents the seminal ‘Chrysalis’, which lends its name to the project. Pinned by a melodic bassline, the track feels inviting, with warm chopped vocals that provide a most welcomed kick-starting effervescence bound to get heads bobbing, working as a perfect set-up for the upcoming ‘Analogue Dream’. Here, Nicolaas and collaborator Jamesen Re keep the colors rolling. Deep and pulsating, the track feels weightless, as the tones of retro synths like Korg’s Juno and their MonoPoly provide their characteristic warmth to a beautiful outing. ‘Icons & Illusions’, another eye-catching collaboration, sees Black teaming up with Samuel K on vocals. Nostalgic, Samuel K’s entrancing vocals take a hold on the listener in this stab-led production with an indie feel in a most enchanting way.
Down the halfway line, ‘Aurora (Nico’s Sunrise Mix)’ takes the spotlight. This time, collaborating with Patricio, Black goes even deeper. A gorgeous and bittersweet slice of organic house, ‘Aurora’ is one of the most distinct tracks in ‘Chrysalis’, as beautiful cellos intertwine with clever arrangements that maximize the emotional impact that the song encapsulates. Back in the club, ‘Before And After’ sees Black delivering some classic house, with a powerful bassline, brimming with energy and sass. Acidic stabs and deep male vocal cuts make for one of the more dance-worthy moments in the album.
The last curve finds the cavernous exploration ‘Soul In Sea’. Heavy on the downbeat, Black sets us up for some deep techno stabs that play with sparse keys that inject copious amounts of flavor into the creation. As Black keeps blazing through uncharted paths, ‘Lost Satellite Rev.1a1b’ sees the artist creating a sci-fi driven piece, where particles of space debris float, trapped in a time vacuum, as they spin in circles, while tension traverses straight through the cinematic moment. The grand finale, titled ‘Sunspots At Dusk’ finds Nicolaas delivering one more hybrid, powered by a flavorful arp line and delicious chord swells, resonating forevermore in the memory of those that come into direct contact with it.
Nicolaas Black’s ‘Chrysalis’ is out now via Closer Orbits. Grab your copy here.
- The Lift
- The Sun (feat. David Isaac)
- Analogue Dream (feat. Jamesen Re)
- Icons & Illusion (feat. Samuel K)
- Aurora (Nico’s Sunrise Mix) (feat. Patricio)
- Before And After
- Soul In Sea
- Lost Satellite Rev.1a1b
- Sunspots At Dusk