Album Review: Nuldeath by Nuldeath

Drawing from an eclectic throwback palette of trip-hop, noise, and shoegaze, OKC trio Nuldeath produces a debut that blurs genre

A message from the Make Oklahoma Weirder team: this article was originally written by Jeremy Duke in 2022 and is being released as part of MOW’s “VVeirder VVinter Vault” of 2023/24.

On a Tuesday evening in late October, Tulsa’s Charlotte Bumgarner took the stage at The Sanctuary in Oklahoma City to perform her delicate songs filled with melancholy and sharply delivered wisdom plucked from her lone acoustic guitar.

Three months later, OKC brutal slam phenoms Bashed In filled the same room with its signature brand of crushing guitar tone, seismic riffs, and relentless condemnation of systemic oppression. 

While these might seem like two disparate images from the Oklahoma DIY scene, they are connected by a shared name on the bill of both shows: OKC trip-hop/shoegaze trio Nuldeath (stylized in lowercase as nuldeath).

Formed in 2022, the band released its self-titled debut the same year and has brought its vintage, beat-laden, hazy sound to crowds alongside artists from the worlds of shoegaze, folk, metal, and hardcore.

The project features members of regional dreampop, shoegaze, and electronica outfits such as Mad Honey, cursetheknife, Community Girlfriend, and splendora21. Nuldeath combines droning guitar and a labyrinth of hypnotic, looped beats with a meticulously crafted atmosphere to produce 34 minutes of captivating trip-hop wonder that engages listeners who come seeking quiet introspection and edgy intensity alike.

Drawing influences from the nineties era post-rock/trip-hop concoctions of Bowery Electric and boundary-pushing shoegaze from groups like They Are Gutting A Body of Water, Nuldeath offers nine tracks that can be enjoyed as intoxicating, ambient compositions or a rich exploration of sound, texture, and mood to actively explore.

“Over” builds its moody atmosphere layer by layer. Whispered vocal samples and bursts of wavering tones lead the way. A midtempo drum loop anchors the serpentine guitar lines that recur throughout the album. The song slow-burns to its conclusion as methodically as it began with warm, swirling electronics and a haunting, spoken-word voice sample. 

With plenty of ethereal moments and midtempo songs throughout the record, Nuldeath avoids producing anything that could be considered “heavy” or “aggressive.” However, the muscular break beat loops and driving swagger of tracks like “Dumb” and “Powderkeg” provide enough changes of pace to keep the album feeling balanced and worthy of attention from start to finish.

“Lialytheekat,” announces itself with a lumbering bassline and trunk-rattling bass drum thump. These rhythms set the stage for shimmering guitar effects that form a series of warped, eerie melodies. The sheer number of hooks and amount of head-nodding fun packed into the two-minute song is a testament to the level of songcraft the members of the band have developed over their years in the local scene.

This is a theme prevalent throughout Nuldeath: songs incorporate a broad sonic vision with ear-catching elements and concepts that don’t overstay their welcome.

When it comes to booking live shows, Nuldeath’s members admit that finding a good fit with a lineup can be tricky. Nevertheless, the band’s sound is so well defined that putting it in front of a diverse set of audiences hardly seems like a risky move. Nuldeath knows what it has to offer and how to deliver it to anyone who is willing to listen.

Jeremy Duke
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Jeremy Duke is a freelance writer who enjoys helping out on The Sanctuary board, riding his bike around OKC, and making crab cakes.

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