To call Jan Nemeček’s latest offering “atmospheric” is to downplay what Fragmented ultimately is: downright ethereal, a roll and echo in the night sky that draws as much from the turning earth beneath your feet as the stars that wheel above. It spreads out as an astral cloud, unfolding inch over inch into shimmering cosmic dust. Focus on a single note and it slips away into a gathering chord, twisting and turning into the swells of melody that draw you further out.
This timeless drift is no small feat either. Rather than metering out each piece, any percussive edges are softened into an undercurrent, guiding us through each new soundscape by feel alone. Opener ‘Organ Hell’ begins with slow piano and the last touches of earthly sorrow. The keys become distorted, slipping and sliding until they blur together in a wash. Without the gravity of rhythm, it stretches out into glowing lines, establishing a single melody over dozens of tones that each, in their own time, rise to the fore. Nemeček’s weightless composition not only builds but directs with these surges, establishing an amorphous kind of meter in the thinning tails of sound. It’s this ability that allows him to distort the very core of each piece, melding time signatures with a refreshing dexterity.
This integration of cadence and melody is also surprisingly flexible in terms of soundscape. ‘Unwelcome’ orbits a rumbling bass frequency like rings of shrapnel, while ‘Still II’ flickers and flutters like a lost communiqué across the emptiness. While this depth might seem at odds with the average length of each track, the real beauty of Fragments is its ability to create microcosms of warmth within an expansive gesture. The towering tones of ‘Can’t’ ripple with vocal harmonies and synthetic waves, making its every swirl a deliberate and intimate moment. Every facet of complexity begs for further exploration, yet each paradoxically remains organic and uncluttered, allowing too for vacuumous satisfaction.
When it does embrace traditional structuring, Fragments shines all the brighter. The glimpse of mournful footing afforded in the striking ‘Iteration’ grounds us, letting us springboard from its shadowed surface with renewed vigor. The way Nemeček uses these othadox pacing mechanisms as a mere reference point, and converts the familiar into the fringe, makes the entire experience a wholly refreshing one. Nowhere is this more prevalent than on closer ‘Uncertainty’, where the final bars of a fluctuating synthesizer are punctuated with a faltering kick. But instead of driving us onward, the kick feels intrusive, solid, and too abrupt in the waning sky. The track descends, the melody fades, a vocal line stutters, and a final kick lets in the silence.
Fragmented is a journey, an unraveling of the meanest particle into yawning celestial space. For those willing to follow, Nemeček has constructed a stunning instrumental abstraction, a nebula of electronic sound that stretches fathoms deep. Pack light, and leave the earth behind.