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Album Review: Nocturnal Sunshine – Nocturnal Sunshine

2 min read

Maya Jane Coles wears monikers the way others wear coats. Though she’s arguably best known for the house music composed under her own name, she also performs in She Is Danger and releases dubstep under the alias Nocturnal Sunshine. Not only is it pointless to argue with her work rate then, it’s also foolish to underestimate her talent. Nocturnal Sunshine is an intelligent and mature work, that, with its glaze of icy cool, manages to truly impress.

Nocturnal Sunshine - Nocturnal SunshineAlthough Coles works strictly within the boundaries of dubstep, she is an expert and collaging emotional tones. Though on first glance a track like Believe might seem to project a steely indifference, it slowly reveals itself to contain more contradictory emotions – hope matched with hopelessness, timid joy matched with aching melancholy.

Though it’s Chelou’s voice one hears on Believe, Coles’ vocals dominate the album, proving herself in the process to be a powerful singer. Again, on the surface, Coles’ voice may sound chilly – the way she sings “I know sometimes we fight/but it’s alright” on Alright implies that it may turn out to be anything but alright – the understated, lullaby-esque quality of her tones becomes increasingly impressive the more the record progresses, with her affected and effective performance on Drive as a highlight.

Footsteps and Bass Bin might be the most conventional tracks on the album, but even they  burst with imagination, creativity, and a deeply felt collection of emotional states. One of Coles’ greatest gifts is her power of restraint, and though Bass Bin could easily have felt like a mundane, pre-packaged number, what with its rising melodies and vocal loops, Coles injects the thing with a throbbing power that never quite gets where it’s going. The song is so effective exactly because it’s a tease, of sorts, a feint Coles also deploys on Intergalactic and Skipper.

Nocturnal Sunshine might sit in a box, but its gaze is fixed past those four walls, onto the horizon. It is a work that embraces a genre, but never comes to feel passé. But more than anything, it’s a surprise: it’s the kind of album one could stumble upon at some midnight hour and then fall deeply in love with.