NESTER – Rainbow Dark

CD Reviews 20 Jan 2016

Nester Rainbow Dark CD CoverNESTER – Rainbow Dark

(2016   Self-Release)


Nester will celebrate this release at the Frequency on January 30, 2016.

Buy the album here.


Nester is quickly becoming an important Madison band. Like others (PHOX, Oh My Love) they meld experimental futurism with pop sensibilities while always using the darker colors of the creative palette. As the title might suggest, this is music noir. While the substance of Rainbow Dark is love and relationships, there is an underlying tension that breeds suspicion; a perfect soundtrack for a current state where nothing can be trusted and any interpretation of reality is possible.

Jeff Carlson has taken over the keyboard role and throughout this six-song EP his atmospherics are largely responsible for setting the mood and pushing the band forward. Like the Sound and Color album from Alabama Shakes, this music sounds like the future, without restriction and fearless in its exploration. Nester has its own powerful female front person in Meghan Hamilton whose descriptive lyrical prose is central to the band’s ethos. “Put your pictures away / We’ll start a brand new file. / A cosmic collision / What’s not to love? / Curb this indecision / What’s not to love?” she sings on “Digicat,” the closest this band may ever get to a true pop song. A nearly choral refrain and a strong melodic hook get interrupted by cannon shots. As if everything is in peril and all optimism could blow up in a second. A yearning for something that has already been found. It’s complicated and frightening but there is strange beauty to it all.

“Crush Play” explores similar territory with Hamilton singing, “I want the fall to be just one / Please don’t leave me hanging on.” There’s another catchy chorus here, Carlson’s synths building tension along with Riki Sjachrani’s disjointed guitar. The band gets a little soulful on the title track, a song that bravely accepts the regrets of the past in exchange for hope in a bleak world where we all have losses to assimilate.

Nester saves the best for last, however, with “BEK.” It’s heavy, dark and brooding, where loving eyes are black, the music reveling in its own contradiction. “You’ll keep me warm? / ‘Cause I don’t know where I’m sleeping / You talk the way you do but I’m not worth saving / … Beautifully cold and empty / …I should be running / But I’m still standing here.” When Hamilton’s vocals converge with the backing vocals in the final refrain, it’s transcendent.

The Madison sound is evolving, as it should. Nester is a torchbearer in this regard and Rainbow Dark is a truly creative and artistic statement; uncanny warmth in cold darkness. At just under thirty minutes, it leaves the listener wanting more and isn’t that what a decent recording should do?

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About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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