Review: Nehalennia – Galeophobia (ONN, Jan 3)

Before even listening to the music, most could probably discern using context clues that galeophobia refers to an irrational fear of sharks. The cultural phenomenon of these unfortunately scary-looking animals being perceived as merciless killers is an interesting one, because the “evidence” can really only be found at two distant points: rare actual shark attacks, and then masterpieces of cinema like Jaws, Open Water, and The Shallows, of which the latter holds considerably more weight in general consciousness. But Galeophobia has little concern with sensationalizing shark attacks in such a way, instead leaning toward the dormant terror submerged beneath the small but persistent twinges of “but what if?” when you find yourself much farther from shore than you thought you were (yes, “you”—no swimming at beaches or open ocean for me, no thank you!). Captured live during a small private performance just after the new year hit, the more recent of Nehalennia’s two new single-track offerings mashes and slices “shark encounter footage” via various effects and faulty tape equipment, working up an ear-splitting racket of horrific harsh that cuts its fin right through whatever’s between the violent immediacy of a really good tabletop set and the queasy environmental psychedelia of laughs and screams heard from across a cavernous aquatic center. Shark-related source material is far from a novel concept in noise, to be sure, but Galeophobia (along with Acolyte of Narcissist Tendency, which preceded it) is a fresh and much more enjoyable take on the approach.