MXLX – Nebula Rasa: Album Review

Matt Loveridge returns with a new album under his MXLX moniker. An album that nearly never was. Simon Tucker reviews.

Release Date: 26th March 2021

Label: Kindarad

Format: Ltd Edition 12″ / DL

Nebula Rasa is the new album by Bristol based multi-instrumentalist Matt Loveridge under his MXLX moniker. The genesis of which saw Loveridge initially aim to move away from the old MXLX sound (“big synths and noises”) and forge yet another new path for himself. Disaster then hit as Loveridge’s laptop with all the music on it was stolen but with the help of friends and Google he was able to locate his phone (stolen with the laptop) and the computer giving Loveridge an even bigger fire to finish the album.

Matt Loveridge’s initial concept for the album certainly rings true when you hear it as Nebula Rasa actually feels slightly different to the previous MXLX albums. Whilst there are certain elements that remain (harsh noise, distorted and snarled vocals) there actually feels like there is an element of something that was missing in previous MXLX albums and that element is hope. Yes, the album contains a rage and intensity that would you expect but there are more moments of softness and beauty on Nebula Rasa than on any other MXLX release. It’s there on the low in the mix vocals that appear about a minute in on album highlight Remove Your Head or when a drum kit kicks into a garage groove on opener The Day I Crawled Out Of The Sun highlighting a normally hidden fondness for traditional sounds. It’s a surprising but very welcome switch of pace.

All of this doesn’t mean that we get a full softening of the edges as the MXLX white sheet chaos still exists throughout the album and as anyone who is knowledgeable of Loveridge’s work will tell you, it is his voice that is the true star of the show. Loveridge sounds like a choir throughout and the way he invokes different characteristics for his voice shows us someone unafraid to put on the skin of another character in his work. Loveridge can go from the most intense scream to the softest of mumbles and his power of arrangement especially when it comes to vocals is once again a high point of his work. There aren’t many musicians who you could compare to him really and it is this writer’s belief that Loveridge is the closest this country has got to producing another Mike Patton. Lyrics arrive in snippets and fly around on the wind of the music. It always feels like it is the tone and sound of the words that are more important than what they are actually saying. An MXLX album sounds like the work of a ten-piece band and this is no different. A noise infected one-man Roxy Music with each disparate element allowed its moment to shine. Electronics contort and snake throughout with drums and drum machines marrying each other in a harmony that must be extremely difficult to achieve and with every song here running over six minutes plus there is plenty of time for dynamics and drama.

Matt Loveridge has said he wanted this album to be a move away from previous MXLX albums and whilst he has achieved that in many respects Nebula Rasa does feel like a classic MXLX release. It is powerful, terrifying and often rather beautiful and whilst the machinery and musicianship are so prominent it is the voice and Loveridge that is the real star of the show. Nebula Rasa is an album full of spit and heart and wherever Loveridge decides to take the MXLX name next you’d be a fool not to follow.

MXLX: Bandcamp / Facebook / Twitter

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