Nadagen LP

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Eschatology, a belief in the imminent end of the world, is as old as time itself. Long before our present fear of ecological catastrophe, our coda was advocated by various theologies and philosophies, from early Dharmic religions to the Millerite movement. The Dutch band Nadagen echoes those apocalyptic seers of old, spreading prophecies about our last days in the small number of songs that they recorded. ‘Nadagen’ translates to something like aftermath or twilight years, which reveals the existential disposition of the band. Imbued with a sense of finality, Nadagen denounces the way that life was lived in the early 1980s. Their lyrics are shouted over minimal instrumentation, making the songs sound like a series of literary insults — a call for nihilistic dancing and demolition on the filth that consumerism and so-called decency produced. Fun is nothing but pointless hedonism, romance a commercialized struggle. “Bitter, braak, slijm, kots, gal” the result.

When the members of the band met in 1982 they were all in their twenties and had just moved to Amsterdam. They lurked at clubs and squats such as De Koer, Dansen bij Jansen, Mazzo and ’t Okshoofd. It was the time of “no future,” only a couple of years after British post-punk bands such as Joy Division made nihilism appealing again. This attitude was picked up as a call to arms by Dutch post-punk/wave labels like Plurex (Minny Pops, Nasmak) and Plexus (De Div, Kiem). Depression and insecticide hung in the air, and if not exactly mainstream, they were still a part of everyday life. Many young souls felt compelled to put in their two cents and comment on the overall malaise, among them Nadagen.

After finding a BOSS DR-55 Dr Rhythm drum machine the group started composing minimal punk and cold-wave at home as a four-piece. Before long the rehearsals drove their neighbours crazy, so they moved to a music-friendly squat. Sometime around the summer of 1982 they recorded a demo tape in the Amsterdam punk-dome Oktopus. The six songs they produced there make up the second side of this record. Sparse and to-the-point, the band effectively adverted the futility of the existential struggle: “Ambitie, frustratie, een reuzenrad/Constant sterven als een vorm van bezigheid.” The tape managed to garner some attention and after switching to a Roland TR606 drum machine Nadagen started touring, performing on some of the grittier Dutch stages.

Sometime around the start of 1983 the group got introduced to Blessure Records, a literary wave label that had released material by several pop-poets, including Ton Lebbink, Diana Ozon and Mike von Bibikov. They replaced their mechanical drummer with a human band member and started working on a proper 12” at Nite Flite studio in Amsterdam. Out of these sessions, two surprisingly danceable singles were released, Kult and Staccato, with modular artwork by street art pioneer Hugo Kaagman. However, the initial plan to release a full 12” fell through after disappointing sales and some inner turmoil. The band split in 1983, reducing their entire existence to less than two years. Side A of this compilation is a recreation of what the unreleased 12” might have become, with the inclusion of the unreleased tracks Gordijn and Gelijkspel.

There is a certain irony in listening to a band who announced the end of times forty years ago. Yet, the immediacy of their adolescent message hasn’t suffered many dents. In a lot of ways, we are now living through a culmination of the issues addressed in their lyrics. Whether you are infatuated by these songs mostly depends on your outlook on life itself. For some, the glass is half full; for others, it’s filled with vinegar. Whatever the case, the glass hasn’t been refilled, which makes listening to timely records such as those of Nadagen such a gleeful experience for all the doomsayers. After all, aren’t we now living through those twilight years predicted by Nadagen?

Futura Resistenza, 2024