Describing himself as "an independent musician based in the north of England", Nog Cavanagh has already released one album of instrumental space rock, Everything Leads to Here, on his Angry Robot imprint and, though it has taken him a further five years to produce a follow up now offers us Sombre Castles of Desire as his second exploration of outer and inner space – and a mighty fine offering it is too.
Cavanagh effortlessly moves through most of the touchstones of contemporary space rock, composing mellow soundscapes and crystalline visions here, driving, sometimes even guttural, rockers there, delivering a wide-ranging sense of aural textures that meld together across this record. It's a genuinely multi-instrumental approach that is employed here. Nowhere do we hear a focus of one instrument over another, everywhere is Cavanagh's multi-layered techniques building up strata upon strata of sound with guitar, drum machine, synth and electronics that create a sound that is sci-fi in the best sense of space rock with an intriguingly slick and professional aura to it – these are well developed compositions with a lot happening within them and which really hold the attention throughout.
'Astraglyde' has a thoughtful aura about it, gradually building up the atmosphere, never getting heavy but methodically becoming more layered as the track expands and develops until it draws back inside of itself again. Following it, 'King Arachno' opens its account with some grinding guitar overlaid with a repetitive sequence of signature notes that soundly strangely familiar even while I'm struggling to place them, developing into an intoxicatingly space rocking number. 'A Chemical Taste On The Tongue' is all weird electronics and pulses with some doom-laden synths happening in the background; the title track starts as though it's going to continue the theme before quickly becoming a more gossamer electronic rumination. Four tracks in and we can hear the range with which Cavanagh is building his work, and that's generally the approach here – around each corner, into each individual track, there's something new and interesting while all the time poking at the different vibes and angles of space rock. Writing as a non-musician, this is a record that's full of the "what's that going on here" or of the "how's he achieving that?" It's an inventive, creative, exciting and engaging record.