We give Stagnant Nebula's latest release a listen, and get beamed up into space as Tapes from the Moon sounds like exactly that...
The universe, much like music, is vast, expanding, and filled with diverse galaxies with untold amounts of planets and stars. On the Cairo music scene there is a a musical star forming; one Stagnant Nebula that has just hurled Tapes from the Moon on a collision course with Earth.
Stagnant Nebula is the brainchild of Omar El Kammar, a musical bedroom cosmonaut who writes, records and produces his own music. CairoScene was fortunate enough to interview him while he was working on his latest release Tapes from the Moon. Initially we thought the album would be released shortly after the interview, but El Kammar's attention to detail has kept the project from landing until just this past week.
Tapes from the Moon is a very apt title for the waves contained within. The album begins with an Intro (Hole) that conjures the images of floating through the darkness and isolation of space, setting the pace patiently as the tracks slowly build exposing gems hidden somewhere between infinity and beyond. The album as a whole sounds like a mixture at times of Mogwai and Sigur Ros. The headphone journey walks a fine line between being considered Post Rock and Shoegaze; for those unfamiliar with these terms, then we guess you can label it Alternative, but what does that even mean?
The intro abruptly ends and doesn't transition well into the other tracks; it feels like it was an idea that was formed but not fully finished until it is revisited in the Outro (Lullaby). The album strikes with a solid Post Rock track entitled The Glass Factory, which has a beautiful groove with dark brooding tones contrasted by distorted electric guitar riffs that hang in the air, creating texture, as an inaudible distant voice help chatters away in the background. The track meanders longer than it should, and slightly changes when a deep, inaudible monotone voice begins singing, only to trail off. The following track is entitled Plastic Windows, and picks up the pace, changing the sound from being softer Post Rock to harder Post Punk, It isn't exactly Post Punk but because it changes the pace, it gives an album a dynamic identity.
Our favourite track on the album was definitely Ways. Ways may not be for all ears, as this track is the closest to Shoegaze then any other offering on the album. Upon first listening to it, we were reminded of legendary ShoeGazers My Bloody Valentine. The track sounds like it is washed out by distorted guitars, and although it may sound like chaos at first, don't be fooled: there is plenty of order within the layers of sounds that exposes Stagnant Nebula's gifted ear for details.
The production of the album is refreshingly good, proving that El Kammar isn't only a wonderful musician but also a decent bedroom producer. Aside from the abrupt end in the intro and later on another track, Tapes from the Moon flows together pretty well, giving the listener the sense that they are floating. Finding these kind of waves can be difficult in a country like Egypt, but what is becoming clear with every passing week is that Egypt's music scene continues to expand and diversify into genres that make this country's musical landscape as colourful as the cosmos.