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Nick Superchi’s “Otherworldly” Is a Grand Vision that Is as Amorphous as It Is an Exercise in Pure Instrumental Mastery

by Patrick Bertlein

Nick Superchi is a name that will not be unfamiliar to many in the world of contemporary extreme metal. Uada have risen up the ranks to become an international band, which was a pleasant surprise for someone who enjoyed Jake Superchi’s intense breed of atmospheric black metal in Ceremonial Castings. This underappreciated band’s live show consisted of a fucking armory of gauntlets and a solid use of theatrics, and the mysterious keyboardist, Jake’s brother “OldNick,” certainly lent additional credence to the aesthetic. While Uada have become a well-known band in their own right, Nick has taken a very different route with this project—one that shows the classical orientations that have always been at the roots of the music he is known for.

I certainly think it’s interesting to observe the dichotomy that exists between these two genre extremes. A musician known for bands such as the Dead, Motorthrone, and the highly underrated Mysticism Black has taken it upon himself to compose pieces of music that go together more with Dante and fine wine than they do with PBR and porn. But what really stands out here, and must be adamantly pointed out, is that few if any traces of his former incarnations exist in the passages that make up the whole of Otherworldly. You would never imagine black metal, or really dark ambient, dungeon synth, or anything else related to the subgenre when you listened to Superchi’s sophomore solo effort. While it is solemn, Otherworldly is certainly more somber than melancholic—a heavy weight on your heart but more of a mature observation than a youthful cry of despair.

Nick Superchi

Presumably composed entirely on his trusty Yamaha electric piano, these short tracks reveal a skilled player that utilizes as many keys as possible. Otherworldly is thus obviously made up strictly of piano compositions, and it fits more alongside Franz Liszt or Johann Pachelbel than it does anyone else. Because of this, however, what I’m actually able to say about the album is somewhat limited. With a rather amorphous theme to coincide with the music, there just really isn’t much to say about it outside of Superchi’s exceptional skill as a contemporary pianist. Readers here would likely be more appreciative of hearing from a classically trained, professional musician on their opinion of Otherworldly in that case. For my part though, I am in awe of the atmosphere that Superchi was able to craft through the songs he has woven on the album. With its images of galaxies and a quote from Carl Sagan, it emulates the beauty of the vast universe and that existential awareness of the even vaster unknown, which is exactly where the secret of its ecstatic vision lays from my perception. In the end, Otherworldly maintains its ultimately though subtly alien nature through its wordlessness and open-ended audial corridors, which is what leaves one near wordless in attempts to define Otherworldly‘s grand scope.