Thomas Nöla Et Son Orchestre is another tragically obscure band that deserves much more attention than they receive. This is especially true when you consider that Douglas P. from Death In June collaborated with them on one of their early albums. This mini CD, ” Songs For Children, Vol. 1″, is a bit different than their normal work, but still manages to fit cohesively into their discography in terms of tone and mood.
First, a bit about the disc. It is a hand made 3″ CD-R that you can purchase directly from the artist for $4. That $4 includes shipping, which means if this release sounds even remotely intriguing to you, you should just buy it. If you hate it, well, then you have a strange $4 novelty to hang onto. The CD came in a plastic envelope with hand printed cover art that features various vintage photos of children. On the front, a photo of a young man in a sweater vest and a bow tie that I strongly suspect was taken in the late 70’s.
The music itself, as per the webpage for the album, is composed entirely on a “decadent” Hammond organ from the 1960’s. Now, I find the claim that this is music for children to be highly dubious, as it is very minimal styled work, lo-fi and gritty, and above all, it is seriously creepy. I imagine kids singing along to Blues Clues, not role playing as Bela Lugosi alone in their dark closet. Or, perhaps I simply wasn’t a demented enough child. Not to suggest that this music isn’t great, as it is! The organ playing is quite masterful, managing to create all sorts of mood dynamics, and demonstrating a lot of compositional skill. I love that Nola is able to create effective ambient music without any glaringly obvious post-production. Even other lo-fi ambient artists like Library Tapes have more post-production than this and still don’t quite manage to stir up this much mood. This music is raw, to be sure, and sounds as if, in addition to being played with a vintage instrument, it also could have been recorded on a vintage tape reel. The raw nature of the recording is part of its charm, as it feels more genuine and personable than other compositions that could compare to it.
“Songs for Children” really reminds me of the sound track for “Carnival of Souls“. I would half suspect this is the sort of style Nola was shooting for during composition. If so, kudos, as he succeeded. For $4, you can’t go wrong, and I’m sure this will be a highly limited edition. Considering the consistent quality of work Nola puts out, I would strongly suspect his work will get more popular as time goes and availability of this recording will become scarce. I wouldn’t delay in grabbing this while it is still available.