Nia Archives – Silence Is Loud

A memoir in sound penned by a regal spirit in modern rave...

Jungle as a sound was forged and codified before Nia Archives was born, but it’s come to define the producer’s life. Working on a lineage, she’s been able to honour the spirit of her jungle fore-parents by introducing her own elements. Speaking up for a new generation of ravers, the Bradford-born artist has helped to spearhead a resurgence within the sound across a flurry of releases, and viral DJ mixes. ‘Silence Is Loud’ is her vision in widescreen – the long-awaited studio album, it’s an amalgam of her most potent audio impulses, a memoir in sound penned by a regal spirit in modern rave.

Very much dialled in to the questing spirit of jungle’s imperial era – circa ’92 to ’96 – ‘Silence Is Loud’ is unafraid to look beyond this hyper-focussed lens. As such, you’ll encounter jazz and neo-soul vibes, alongside bass-bin rattlers galore.

Opening with the title track, Nia Archives introduces her album with a flex of hyper-velocity electronics. With its acoustic lilt and wistful vocal, ‘Cards On The Table’ pivots once more – a dose of after-hours introspection. The album then ricochets between these poles, at once being a paean to escapism, while also facing down both the reasons and route of escape. The skippy ‘Unfinished Business’ is adorned by those dulcet piano chords, a moment of understated beauty.

Looking towards the more soulful aspects of jungle, songs like ‘Crowded Roomz’ offer a sense of communion founded on feeling. A terrific sonic engineer, the song bursts with energy but betrays Nia Archives’ exacting production touch – no detail is too small for her ears.

‘Nightmares’ is darker, letting her impulses stretch a little. Reminiscent of those peak era LTJ Bukem cuts, it’s unafraid to channel her fears in a frank manner. Blending her penchant for club weapons with a desire for songwriting, tracks like ‘Out Of Options’ could easily work in a stripped down fashion – yep, the Nia Archives unplugged session isn’t that far away from reality.

Fan-favourites like ‘Forbidden Feelingz’ and closer ‘So Tell Me…’ are utilised perfectly, providing ample peaks amid the formidable landscape constructed by Nia Archives. As a mission statement, ‘Silence Is Loud’ – from its title down – is virtually perfect for the producer. Exuding femme energy – she’s frequently DJ’d to women-only spaces – she taps into an often neglected aspect of jungle history, while writing a few chapters of her own. An early Mercury tip? Don’t bet against it.

8/10

Words: Robin Murray

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