by Nathan Springer (@drownloading)
Splits can do many things for the artists who collaborate on them. They can give musicians the chance to complement each other’s sound, highlight each other’s differences, or collectively explore a particular direction. On Ada Babar (Suffer Dragon, Faun and a Pan Flute) and Kasra Kurt’s (Palm) split release Nino Tomorrow, dropping on cassette through the duo’s newly founded Favourite Tapes imprint, we find two prolific musicians somehow doing all three of these things simultaneously. This split is a wonderfully weird, infectiously catchy journey down a musical rabbit hole that is equal parts pop and experimentation.
Both sides of the split are characterized by their heavy use of MIDI instrumentation, in the form of both keyboards and MIDI guitar pickups. However, this surface level similarity can’t hide the individual personalities at play on Nino Tomorrow. Ada’s side of the split opens with “Smoke Inside,” an erratic MIDI melody coupled with comically earnest lyrics that disintegrates into voices asking questions such as ”Is it cool if I borrow your mixer for a couple of days?” This lyrical playfulness colors much of Ada’s side of the split. Another thing that characterizes this side is how many of the tracks are seemingly influenced by video game menu music, although that description may belie how intricate and engaging tracks like “At Me Like” and “Can’t Get MIDI THRU 2 U” really are. Elsewhere, Ada ventures into droning compositions tempered by melodic vocals, as heard on “The Receipt” and “Loud Outside.”
Kasra’s side of the split will sound somewhat familiar to anyone acquainted with his band Palm. There are still odd (yet natural-feeling) time signatures, heavily chorused vocals, and moments of meditative repetition. However, here Kasra is able to more fully immerse himself in pop melodies and experimental recording techniques. The first track, “Rough Rug,” serves as a sort of mission statement for Kasra’s side of the split. Relaxing MIDI marimba and drum machines back lyrics about- well, a literal rough rug. The track opens up in the second half as multiple drum kits fill in extra space before the jam melts into syrupy sweet vocal melodies and droning chords. Instrumental track “Are We Technical?” showcases Kasra’s talent for melding catchy melodies with an undercurrent of unease, while “Voice In My Head” and “Tumbleboy” ride out on waves of repeated chords and lilting vocal melodies.
The whole point of a split is to have each artist bring out the best in each other, and Ada and Kasra do exactly that on this collaboration. Nino Tomorrow is an engaging glimpse into the creative process of two individuals exploring the possibilities offered by a particular sonic palette. This tape shows that the marriage of experimentation and pop sensibilities in modern-day DIY music is alive and thriving.