Nova Charisma – ‘Exposition II’ EP

By Fiachra Johnston

Sergio Medina and Donovan Melero are not unknown faces in the business. With Medina serving as guitarist in the post-hardcore Stolas, Melero fronting the equally hard Hail The Sun, and both serving time in prog-rock supergroup Sianvar, the duo’s signature sound and vocals are plastered all over the scene. Both have a reputation for breaking new grounds sonically, so it seemed likely that the next step in their careers was to go even further, to tread new grounds and develop their music even further. From this springs Nova Charisma, and this EP.

‘Exposition II’, as its name implies, is the second EP released under the duo’s collaborative project, following on from ‘Exposition I’. Comparing the two, they fit together well, flowing from one into the other if you were to listen back to back, but this record stands on its own. There are elements here and there a la The Mars Volta, but overpowering it all is what can only be Median and Melero’s guitars and vocals. The sound on ‘Hoxton’ and ‘Sonya’ are still instantly recognisable as Medina’s by the frantic buzz of guitars, while, Melero’s vocals are uniquely high and biting, as is their songwriting ability. This is a pairing that know their strengths and weaknesses, and aren’t scared to return to what they’re familiar with in order to turn it into something new.

What speaks clearest in the EP is its simplicity. Technically sound, yes, but complicated? Overcrowded? Never. The quiet keys of ‘Diary (Don’t Speak)’ that open a softer than expected piece, the open spaces of ‘Gemini’ that often allow Melero’s vocals to shine through, are all elements of Nova Charisma’s “Less is more” mentality. While at times this can make for a rather bare-bones EP, it’s refreshing to see a group willing to trust their own ability to create music without over saturating each piece with multi-layered instrumentals and walls of sound.

Exposition II is its own record, but also stands as a continuation of the experimental sound Nova Charisma deliver with their first release. It’s a style out of the comfort zone of its authors and despite its simplicity, it’s engaging enough to warrant multiple listens. It may not be the most mould-breaking of works compared to its predecessors in the genre, but it’s separate enough from Medina and Melero’s previous outings to deliver a new sound that will pique the interest both old fans of the pair and new fans looking to experience something fresh in hard rock.

FIACHRA JOHNSTON

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