¥815 nebulo. castles. cd. october2k13.




sill *.mp3
boxxx *.mp3
echory *.mp3
16 *.mp3
vertigo *.mp3
basements *.mp3
mireor *.mp3
coryza I
spell sleep *.mp3
mora *.mp3

written, performed and produced by thomas pujols (2012-2013). layout by salt
mastered by andreas [lupo] lubich at calyx berlin

the cd includes a download code for the 'basements' ep.

artistic advancement combined with a logical stylistic continuation is an important aspect of nebulo's work, and the follow up to the 'cardiac' release makes no exception to thomas pujols' working method. what started as a plain concept for an ep, resulted in something way more complex: the full length album 'castles', expanded with the digital ep 'basements'.

on both releases the usage of beat-driven structures is present, but the clear emphasis of nebulo's new works lies in the addition of a new set of sound aesthetics developed during the last two years. 'castles' offers an intensified amount of repetitive patterns based on dark technoid textures, accumulated with polyrhythmic adjustments, unusual harmonic breaks and strengthened analog / digital synthesis. the atmospheres transferred by these sounds range from dreamy and mesmerizing to abruptly irritating and even menacingly forceful - as strong, solid and contorted as castles are intended to be.

like a sonic architect, nebulo successfully explores new territories and strikes a new path, where 'basements' can be allegorized as the foundation of 'castles'. oftenly, ambitions and dreams about building something impossible result in illusive castles in the sky - with this release nebulo has certainly proven that the 'castles' you are about to listen to became reality.

nachdem mit der ep basements fest schon metaphorisch das fundament gelegt wurde, geht es nun mit dem dazu gehörigen überbau in form von castles weiter. dabei ist es schon bemerkenswert, wie das graphische design des albums schon treffend beschreibt, was schriftlich nur in mehreren sätzen möglich ist: ein grundriss auf dem cover, der relativ schnell erfassbar ist. doch schaut man sich die anderen seiten an, so werden die weiteren teile immer komplexer: mehr stockwerke, verwinkelte räume – und alles greift ineinander. von oben betrachtet mag es dennoch auch alles nüchtern anmuten: ein frontaler blick – sei es auf das, was die grundrisse beschreiben oder auf die musik – erweist sich als deutlich schwieriger. denn auf castles fließen diverse elemente ineinander: rhythmen, rauschen und analoge synthesizer ergeben ein komplexes klangbild, das kaum zu entwirren ist. um nicht den überblick zu verlieren, erscheint es nur möglich, sich erst auf einzelne aspekte zu konzentrieren, um dann das ganze irgendwann erfassen zu können. aber selbst das scheint nicht so richtig möglich: zu vieles funktioniert für sich gut, widerspricht aber anderen elementen, wohingegen zeitgleich wieder andere elemente harmonieren. castles folgt keinem klaren muster. es öffnet räume, die man betrachten kann, entlässt einen in innenhöfe und lässt den hörer auch gerne in sackgassen laufen. letztendlich ist aber genau das dann auch die ironie des albums: mag ein schloss oder eine burg, auf englisch „castle“, sich noch mit einem grundriss zurechtfinden, erscheint dies auf dem album letztendlich nicht möglich. (tristan osterfeld)

lennart hilbert homepage and blog
i just realized what got me so hooked on castles. every single track has its own life, a fundamentally different substance. still, they are all very finished and polished to near perfection. thought out. even better, they all make sense together. i would call this ‘horizontal integration’. there is also vertical integration. from the smallest shaped noise and micro-patterned percussion, up to the dynamic of the album played from front to back (and the basement, as you will find out below), nebulo’s craftsmanship shows on any level. nebulo’s castles, released on 29, october on hymen records (who calls their label hymen, anyways?) was a new artist discovery for me. nebulo, aka thomas pijols, certainly is not new to his craft. the french producer has, over the course of years, released several, stylistically highly varied and highly experimental works (as far as i could tell from interview reading and exploratory listening online). his repertoire has covered many styles that i currently find intriguing and enjoyable. this album is their grand synthesis, and thus an automatic like for me. however, each of these styles is close to inaccessible to the general listener, i believe – but castles pulls off the trick to package them more generally digestible, without watering any of it down. orphx style harsh dance/industrial noise (orphx by themselves are already ingenious genre-breakers) shine through on many corners. though, where orphx give themselves into blissful abandon, castles always reserves a life line back to a lighter, more rational and controlled place. there is also massive, massive use of synthesizer. one great recent example of synth in purist form is norwell’s harmonia on box records. harmonia sounds like a good album created from an obsession with a device and an ultimately rigid stylistic frame of reference. castles non-dogmatically utilizes the same device with impressive efficacy and admirable integration with more contemporary, multi-layered noise surfaces, peppered, punchy beats, and unapologetically dynamic song structures. one reason this review took as long as it did is the waiting time for the vinyl to arrive from the ant-zen mail order (nothing exceptionally long for trans-atlantic shipping). let me say that it was worth it. the lp arrives in a stylish gray-black sleeve with custom-made stamps (yes, these things we used to send letters), bearing the floor layout of – you guessed it – castles. great detail, makes me wonder if someone else now has other floorplans, as it really seems the stamps have been ripped from a bigger sheet. also, there is a poster, a postcard, and an mp3 download link for the album and an additional ep (called basements) that accompanies the album release. the poster and postcard have the same intriguing floorplan theme as the front stamps, which makes me feel i have to reference the cover designer, who appears simply as ‘salt’ in the credits. the basements ep, in nebulo’s own description, should be the counterpart of the neatly polished and well-arranged tracks on castles. sort of a darker, deeper, more brooding under-pinning of the very minute, polished, and articulate work on castles itself. it makes sense when you listen. the ep also contains my favorite in the whole release, training, the very last track of it all. it is, in my opinion, achieving the most powerful, moving, and elegant synthesis of above-mentioned styles, eschews the usual clear-cut song structure in favor of a more kosmische (that’s pc for ‘krautrock’, okay?) build-decay rolling right over you, but still pulls it all together perfectly on first listen. let’s sum up. with castles, nebulo gives us a generous serving of his craftmanship, and shows no fear of mixing confrontational noise, broadsides of synth, driving dancefloor beats, and melodic lines in the mix with catchy, pop song structures. for once, i also would not be afraid playing my more extreme tastes in electronic music out to anyone who has even the least interest in well-done audio creation. for most of the styles quoted above and referenced on castles, i usually would be. (lennart hilbert)

when it comes to castles, the latest release from hymen records‘ nebulo, lo-fi is certainly the word. as a french producer active since 2006, thomas pujols’ work has previously been used in sound-art installations and this will be his fifth lp on hymen records. by layering a vast array of morphed synths and samples on top of a skeleton of unassuming beats, nebulo creates a lonely sort of electronic music, fit for headphone commuters and urban nomads. the almost constant droning distortion; the vast, echoing reverb; the incessant, shifting intricacies; the lack of conventional melody (although there is some piano), all combine to produce an experience characteristic of an uncanny and mild dissociation. often claustrophobic, though occasionally opening up acoustic chambers and plateaus, castles proves nebulo’s worth as a producer, expertly steering clear of both stagnation and overkill. one of the hardest things for electronic artists is balancing the almost infinite potential of electronic instrumentation with composition and direction. i suspect that nebulo achieves this by choosing sounds in virtue of their contribution to the whole, rather than their individual identities—feedback rises from out of the tail ends of synths, gaps in the percussion are filled with expanding distortions, pads give birth to echoes and delay. well worth a listen! (pete marshall)

het zogenaamde intelligent dance music segment in de elektronische muziek is niet ontzettend groot. wie zijn zoekbereik dan nog eens inperkt tot de zwaardere - tegen industrial aanleunende - varianten van het genre, stoot onvermijdelijk op de indrukwekkende cataloog van de duitse platenfirma hymen (dochterlabel van ant-zen). de eerste platen van de toonaangevende belgische powernoise artiest imminent starvation verschenen erop en ook artiesten als hecq, xanopticon, gridlock en architect hebben er hun bekendheid grotendeels mee verworven. ook fransman thomas pujols onder de naam nebulo mag intussen een gevestigde waarde genoemd worden in deze stal want realiseert met ‘castles’ zijn zesde album op rij. al sinds debuutplaat ‘kolia’, dat in 2006 verscheen, poneerde nebulo zijn uitstekende kennis van produceren. die technische bagage heeft hij gedurende zijn loopbaan niet verspeeld. elk onderdeel in de muziek van ‘castles’ is immers in detail ontworpen als een component van een samengestelde, operationele eenheid. puur mechanisch, zoals industrial muziek doorgaans klinkt, wordt het echter zelden dankzij de organische klanken die nebulo in zijn pallet vermengt. hier en daar voegt hij een melodie toe die versneld of vertraagd is afgespeeld wat een gevoel van nostalgie op de wijze van boards of canada bewerkstelligt. het hypnotiserende nummer “vertigo” is zo’n geval in het extreme, dat de luisteraar in een neonverlichte omgeving van een gaspar noé film plaatst. grove effecten geven een patina aan de melodieuze klanken zodat ze niet langer zuiver of opgewekt klinken. het geknisper en gekraak sluit om die reden nauw aan bij de licht gedistortte motiefjes op de achtergrond, al zal een mens er niet vrolijker van worden. als nebulo zijn baslijnen dan ook nog eens laat eindigen in mineur (“sill”) zit de recessie er helemaal in gebakken. vastberaden kiezen voor een bepaalde stijltechniek doet hij echter niet. draait het ene nummer om harmonische symmetrieën, dan kiest nebulo elders wel voor pure industrial of een techno-georiënteerde aanpak. met “coryza i” overschrijdt de fransman de kaap nog een pak verder. daar loopt de luisteraar pal op een verloren gelopen powernoise nummertje waarin verpulverende bassen letterlijk alle kanten uit schrapen. het trage tempo aangevuurd met sfeervolle claps in de achtergrond beukt hier kort maar degelijk door. zulke uitstapjes tussen vintage klanken, stoïcijnse machineritmiek en hun hybrides maken dit album misschien niet honderd procent consistent maar zorgen wel voor genoeg spanning en variatie. wie bijgevolg iets anders zoekt dan de rooskleurige elektronica doch niet ten onder wil gaan in de barre fabriekssfeer is hier op de juiste plaats. (vincent welleman)

never estranged to the challenge of delving into uncharted synth-laden crevices, french composer thomas pujols has been fascinating ambient and idm proponents since 2006’s kolia. with his abstract themes and eclectic sonic palette always focused in the direction of uninhibited expression and avant-gardism, it comes as very little surprise that he draws inspiration from the likes of aphex twin to even david lynch. expanding the dark, depressing, and quasi-lo-fi foundation of the basements ep, castles sees his next transformation as nebulo in a dynamic and deeply conceptual form. within the first few seconds, the intimate and nearly claustrophobic heavy reverbs in “popcult” set the overall gloomy mood. while the record retains an incredibly bleak feel throughout, the bleeps and glitches that scuff through the beat-driven terrains conjure various emotions. from the soft and almost comfortingly minimalist “boxxx” to the threatening and shrill “echory” to the nightmarish haze in “vertigo,” pujols lures and continuously engages his audience around every dark, cinematic corner. syncopated dance rhythms and crystalline synths stride through the cavernous atmospheres of “basements” and “mireor” only to be met with the offbeat distortion in “coryza i” and the surreal ambience in “mora,” exhibiting that monotony is very much a foreign entity to the imaginative dna of nebulo. conceptually, castles can be viewed as a commentary on the prevalent dissatisfaction and loneliness of humankind. however, much like 2012’s cardiac and earlier works, the vast appeal lies in the subjectivity that can be expected with such a thought-provoking art form, even if the intended narrative is structured around “…ambitions and dreams about building something impossible resulting in illusive castles in the sky…” from a technical standpoint, and despite some minimalist textures, nebulo rewires his sound and presents a dark and progressive yet relatively accessible experience from a different spectrum. (zachary locke)

nebulo discography 10.2k13:
castles. cd / 12" lp. hymen records ¥815 / ¥058. 2013
basements. digital ep. hymen records ¥816. 2013
redkosh. digital ep. hymen records ¥811 / pavillon36 recordings p36-073. 2013
cardiac. cd / 12"lp. hymen records ¥804 / ¥057. 2012
urbatectures (w/ druc drac). digital album. hymen records ¥797. 2011
artefact. cd. hymen records ¥787. 2010
avutma. cd. hymen records ¥768. 2008
kolia. cd. hymen records ¥753. 2006

nebulo websites: