Bucked Up Space by Nik Colk Void
The Void evolution
Nik Colk Void has been plying her trade as a thoughtful, uncompromising musician for well over two decades, first singing and playing guitar in raucous Indie Pop outfit Kaito (from 1998), then, ten years later, as a core member of electronic-bothering-Indie degenerates Factory Floor, contributing guitar, vocals and samples to five albums of cold electronic Techno. In 2012 she hooked up with Throbbing Gristle's Chris and Cosey and (over seven years) made three albums of groovy, experimental Krautrock-inflected jams in a side project called Carter Tutti Void. In 2017, Void teamed up with Editions Mego boss Peter Rehberg (using the name NPVR) to make her most challenging musical statement yet with album 33 33.
Plotting her musical path may produce a discernible line but it snakes around with unexpected abandon. As I hinted in my 2013 review of the Factory Floor debut album, you could pick a few key tracks from her discography, say five years apart, and you might be mistaken for thinking you were listening to completely different artists — and to an extent you are; as Void's output has advanced so too has her artistic mindset. Like the most exciting and innovatove artists, she's restless, inquisitive and incessantly evolving. It's a healthy attitude to bring to your work.
So, it's 2022 and a new milestone has been reached: Void's first solo release (her last release was 2019's Triumvirate, the third Carter Tutti Void album) and, you guessed it, her output and outlook have shifted once again. Rammed with ideas, the tracks are dense and carry weight. It's not particularly head-nodding or headphone listening music but it's her most accessible yet. She's quick to clarify:
My music hasn’t transformed to easy listening. [It's] a bridge between techno, ambient and avant garde; a deconstructed guitar record
Like all her records, guitars are used and abused in interesting ways, even if the primary sound is electronic. With a playing time of just ~37 minutes and nine edgy tracks that hover between experimental and Pop-leaning (or if you prefer, art and entertainment) Bucked Up Space is the perfect length for repeat listens. There's a pleasing, if undulating, flow that reflects her winding career path, with surprising jumps in mood at every turn. These contrasting sound juxtapositions emphasise her production range but moreover her ear for track sequencing—the first three are a good example of this with the emotive Techno rhythms of opener Interruption Is Good wiped out by the broken-beat, chopped-up guitar sounds of Big Breather, before a further dramatic mood switch with the experimental interlude Tender Supposition (which sounds like it could have been produced by the Radiophonic Workshop). As each tracks ends, whether it's one of the three short experimental works that provide breathing space for the six more substantial compositions, the mood, pace or style that opens the next is reliably different.
The Void evolution continues apace.