NTHNL, 'Cosmic Flute Rides Again' (Review & Interview)

NTHNL, 'Cosmic Flute Rides Again' (Review & Interview)

I often wax nostalgic if you've been listening to any of our interviews or reading the music reviews. For talk radio back in the day, it was Art Bell's Coast to Coast AM. For music, it was 106.1, the Oasis, a radio station in Dallas that did smooth jazz and new age music. The cover art for NTHNL, Cosmic Flute Rides Again took me back there. It was also quite a shock when the music sent me time-traveling even further back and I wasn't even dressed yet! I was relieved when I got there, however, to find that no one else was dressed either. That's how far back this took me.  

The Cosmic Flute Rides Again is a follow-up to Jacob "NTHNL" Rudin's debut and prequel to this release simply called The Cosmic Flute. Had I time-traveled on that one, it would have been more awkward because it's more modern than this one, where they mind if you're not wearing clothes. But enough about that. Let's talk about the music for this new release.

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The Cosmic Flute Rides Again

First, I want to talk about the accessible tracks in their order on the album. "Neon Flow" starts off with a funk-driven, danceable bassline, and in no time, Jacob locks the melody with the flute and we're off. It's a trade-off between the synthesizers and the flute. It's pretty straightforward to get us into "Our Secret", which has a slower tempo. Rudin glides over an R&B groove set to a hip-hop beat. The strumming of a guitar makes this track more stylish. This is pretty minimal throughout the track which makes his flute playing stand out more. 

Then we get to La Salle D'attente (Feat. Eline Marx). Not unlike "Neon Flow" it has a funky start but this time with keys and sax, all of which Jacob has covered. Then Eline Marx adds French dialogue which is when it gets a little sexier, before we get back to the funk zone we started with. "Full Spectrum" is even catchier but it also gives Jacob some room for various flute techniques. "Sexual Selection" is more my climate, where he combines sax and flute but it's got more of an electronica approach. I'm feeling Under The Flightpath era Darren Price. 

Verdict: While I personally enjoy these tracks, I feel that the accessibility of them restricts Rudin from what he can do. Those beats and baselines add enough foundational support to where it's pretty much hands-off for the artist to be able to freestyle over them. 

The Inaccessible Tracks

With "Prelude", there are either more layers of sound or it sounds that way since the beat doesn't dominate the piece. This is when Jacob's flute playing pops out. It also takes more of a percussive lead than I noticed in the more accessible tracks. The atmospheric organ is also a subtle but nice touch. 

Isolating these tracks as I have, Nico's Exorcism Dance stands out. The beat is the foundation, but there's more melody from the flute playing it's also unconventional in the sense of popularity, where the energetic performance serves as the pop element that makes "woodwind" instruments take the lead, not unlike this guy. 

We get a little more of his energy with "Digital Exposure" with layered woodwinds. Composer and cellist Aliya Ultan adds a Middle Eastern style with her cello which is exciting. i would put "Avec Tendresse" and "Alice" are bright atmospheric compositions that extend whatever you interpret the mood of the album to be. The pieces are short but they are less defined than the other tracks where to me, they give off neutral energy.

You can tell when a reviewer pays little to no attention to what they're reviewing. On top of that, once they write something about it, they leave it behind and move on. I feel that I need more time with this release to let it age for a bit. Rudin has at one point expressed that he wasn't really certain why this needed to be made and we talk about that for a bit in the interview at the end of this article. With that, I feel that he and I might be on the same journey where the album will settle for both of us. 

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Interview with Jacob "NTHNL" Rudin

Cosmic Flute Rides Again was released on March 10 of this year, and the interview was recorded on August 8th, before his latest release Movement In The Tunnel
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