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Following the energetic debut ‘NICKO_1’, electronic producer & bassist NICKO demonstrates eclecticism with his second DIY album of 2023 and first ambient offering, ‘CONTEXT I’. 

The musical scores of TV, film and video games have a magical power to affect the mental state of the audience. Sometimes in an obvious way, sometimes more discreetly. Ever since noticing that in Hans Zimmer’s iconic score for ‘The Lion King’ as a child, music having this incredible ability is something that has endlessly fascinated NICKO.

Despite being a listener of ambient and ambient-adjacent music for almost two decades, creating his own is something NICKO always thought about but never attempted. Track two of the album, ‘Losing Track Of Time’, is the first piece in the genre that he ever worked on. “I just simply woke up one morning and decided to give it a go,” he states. Describing the process, “I sat at my workstation with one criteria in mind: write a simple, repeating melody in a major key and see where it goes. I looped it, changing the filters and parameters on my synth basically until I got bored. This turned out to be a surprisingly long time, both instantly inspiring the title and causing me to ponder the other meanings of the phrase. There’s the musical sense of zoning out from where beat one lands, so I played around with that; placing different versions of the melody on slightly different beats at varying volumes with the intention of making the listener gently drift off from where they thought they were. Then, because it’s generally a peaceful notion in my mind, it led me to experiment and improvise melodies on my fretless bass with a care-free approach; playing loosely and not particularly in-time until I found some lines I thought sounded daydream-like. Though I absolutely put my heart and soul into the other music I make, it feels somewhat mechanical due to the nature of its style, whereas this felt more like expressionist painting. I enjoyed it so much I frankly felt silly for not attempting an ambient project before. I knew immediately that I wanted to make more and I dove in head-first”.

With some of the pieces featured on ‘CONTEXT I’, NICKO had a particular intention from the beginning. ‘The Last Five Minutes’ is a loving portrayal of the passing of his grandmother, for which he was present by her hospital bedside along with his mother, step-father and sister. The music is a sensitive representation of her body shutting down and of her consciousness gently slipping away. “This was something that I knew I had to do”, he reveals. “I was really close with my grandma and I feel incredibly lucky to have been with her for her final moments. I’d never experienced anything like that before and I knew it was going to stick with me forever, but for exclusively good reasons. It was a beautiful thing. It couldn’t really have been more peaceful”.

Other tracks on the album required different modes of presence and awareness. “This probably sounds crazy,” cautions NICKO, “but sometimes it’s as if I had to let the ideas form of their own volition; receive them rather than create them myself… and what they were trying to depict was revealed to me slowly as I listened closely, paying complete attention to how they were making me feel as I worked on them. The ideas themselves would guide me down one particular route or another. ‘Patience’, ‘Losing Track Of Time’, ‘Dread’ and ‘Bad Omen’ all came to be in this way. One funny outcome is that I’ve never had such an easy time giving titles to pieces of my music. They are simply named after what they sound and feel like to me. You could even ask; ‘did they name themselves?’”

‘CONTEXT I’ is a captivating and occasionally haunting musical portrayal of emotions in the abstract, hypothetical scenarios and real experiences, featuring a blend of 70s and 80s inspired synth tones, and multi-tracked fretless and extended range bass guitars. Coming to all digital platforms worldwide on September 22nd.

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