Review by Mike O’Cull, independent music journalist. www.mikeocull.com
Nuell Martin is an ambient electronic musician and composer with a downtempo jones and a sci-fi attitude. He makes instrumental music that deals with some of life’s biggest questions and allows listeners to find the answers each in their own way. His latest release is called Operation Bifrost and is a concept album in which the concept isn’t revealed but is left to those listening to define. This is a left-of-center approach, to be sure, but it gives Martin’s fans a high level of personal interactivity that a traditional album can’t match. Martin has made each component of Operation Bifrost part of the album’s story that’s meant to be interpreted. The title, artwork, songs, and sequence are all specks of a tale of new technologies and old sins that every listener gets to tell themselves.
The record is only five tracks in length but each one is well-conceived and executed, which lets the intended ideas flow from the first moments of the opening cut “Stealing The Secret.” It’s built upon a mid-tempo synthwave-ish groove that’s quietly relentless and supports the synths swirling above it nicely. “Monegros” is throbbing and cinematic and puts minds in a hypnotic, contemplative state. Martin takes his listeners deep into their own selves in an exquisitely dark manner reminiscent of the best science fiction soundtracks and the electronic side of 1980s New Age. His music connects with the elemental rhythms of the body and brain and pours out its secrets all around you. Other highlights include “The Gift” and “Betrayed.”
Every moment of Operation Bifrost is compelling in its own way and the set should really be listened to in order in a single sitting. Its magic is most effective that way and one pass through it will prove that point. Nuell Martin is a name for ambient music aficionados to remember and investigate. His music needs to reach a larger audience and this new effort has the potential to do just that.
LISTEN ON BANDCAMP: https://nuellmartin.bandcamp.com/album/operation-bifrost