Nad Navillus: "Iron Night"

Chicago-based guitar virtuoso Dan Sullivan delivers a dark, brooding but ultimately engaging avant-rock record.

Published January 13, 2003 10:12PM (EST)

Nad Navillus
"Iron Night"

Out now on Jagjaguwar

Dan Sullivan spends as much time functioning as lead guitarist for Songs: Ohia and Parker Paul as he does pursuing his own project under the name Nad Navillus. The influence of his musical co-conspirators (most notably that of the former) is apparent in Sullivan's own dark, unflinching style, but Nad Navillus is both subtler in tone and more dynamic musically than its two peers.

"Iron Night" kicks off with the percussive, finger-picked acoustic guitar of "So You Can Sleep Easier." Laying out a syncopated rhythm reminiscent of Gastr Del Sol, but imbued with a more brooding, gothic quality than the sound of the '90s experimental duo, it engages the listener emotionally by employing minor keys and slow, subdued rhythms. Against the generally foreboding landscape of the album, "Too Tight" distinguishes itself through upbeat, "Helter Skelter"-style drums coupled with Sullivan's chaotic and distorted guitar as the most rocking and cathartic cut.

While "Iron Night" possesses the intimacy in voice and atmosphere of a singer/songwriter record, the excellence of the contributing players gives it an eerie precision and aura of possibility. Suzanne Roberts' violin beautifully accents Sullivan's guitar playing and vocal intonations, while Dan Sylvester's almost prog rock-esque drumming provides a dynamic rhythmic foundation without drawing attention away from Sullivan's words.

By B.R. Bickford

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