“Labels and imagery prior to or accompanying acoustics can reflect the waves of attention, details weaving in and out of constructed awareness… We are consciously intersecting with all and any we willfully recognize, one diamond facet at a time.”
Aside from this quote on her Bandcamp (which comes from a press release for her 2013 album spirit sign), enigmatic Oakland artist nima appropriately doesn’t offer much context regarding her music, leaving its own constructions up for interpretation. Yet nima doesn’t seem too concerned with semiotics; she doesn’t give a shit whether we can “properly” locate her sounds within some sort of historicized context. As billowy opener “Found You” materializes into a spirited yet scuffed groove, its close acoustics and economical instrumentation (a Casiotone MT-68 and a Boss DD-20 Giga Delay pedal) exhibit that See Feel Reel is a bedroom recording in form, yet nima’s electrically-charged vocal vibrations pierce through these swells of both diegetic and fabricated noise with velocity and intentionality, suggesting that they’re aimed at a window (or at least a door) rather than at a pillow.
Setting — a bedroom in this case — is another potentially relevant critical point of reference, especially for music made outside of or pushed against conventional structures (most albums we award EUREKA!), yet here it doesn’t seem like a structuring point in and of itself. Nima isn’t mapping out her own profane surroundings (at least not as an exploratory exercise); she’s sending signals from them, waiting for which ones bounce back. Her often second-person lyrics (“What are you waiting for?/ Don’t fucking humor me”) and perpetually disruptive sonic pulses show how See Feel Reel isn’t simply a bedside confessional nor is it merely an experimental sound-collage; it’s part of a dynamic and ongoing conversation.
As a writer for Tiny Mix Tapes, there is a certain perspective that — no matter how much I interrogate it — structures how I receive and make sense of sounds. When, in between fricative pop songs, I hear patient, voiceless tracks like “New Dance ft. clownshoes” — its deliberate, vitalic tones meditatively metered-out like a controlled heart rate — or “Luv’s Infinite Cinema” — its delicately interlaced instrumental motifs weaving a quilt worn of memory — I also hear echoes of Grouper; when I listen to “New City Grip,” I hear how it picks up copeland’s empowering, sanguine vibes like a magnet, lending it an unstoppable energy as it snags on and subsequently snaps synthetic string flourishes like clotheslines; and with “Safe Haven,” a track that revs with modulated feedback before inconspicuously melding into a syncopated, airy pop song, I’m reminded of Grimes’ Visions.
Of course, these are comparisons that I bring with me as I pick up nima’s diverse sounds and engage with them within my current framework. What is so remarkable about See Feel Reel’s sonic diversity, however, is that its meaning is not bound by my awareness, even though it is through it that I continually relate with See Feel Reel. nima’s eclecticism then isn’t objectively an amalgamation of things that I or anybody else notices, because it is us who habitually amalgamate ostensibly fragmented noises in certain ways and accordingly assign clumsily aggregated meanings. On nima’s part, however, by arranging these various sounds like arbitrary phonemes into perpetually collapsing structures, she dislodges her own music from these temporal limitations and labels, and as much as she offers space for her music to sink in and settle into our own constructed ecologies, her own fierce feedback assures that our epistemological questions are never quite satisfied.
nima tags her music as “devotional,” a curious yet perfect description for this dynamic exchange between artist and listener. In a religious context (again, a context that I bring with me), devotional relationships are powerful because they are transformative, and See Feel Reel transforms (itself and perceptions of it) with every listen. See Feel Reel transcends its own perceived context too, as these transformations last beyond a period of constructed listening, lending ever-fresh yet perishable perspectives on other noises that now remind me of nima. Also, in case none of this translates well into your own understanding of See Feel Reel (it is totally probable that I have confused more than illuminated), it is also real-ly good, in its own right.