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Title: Nihil
Artist: Acretongue
Genre: Electronic
Release Date: 4th August 2007
Label: None


ACRETONGUE is the project of sole member Nico J from South Africa. The name of the project is descended from a character in the Terry Pratchett Novel “The Carpet People”. It doesn’t mean anything because people should judge the project by its music and not by the name. Initially ACRETONGUE was just an experiment to see what was possible but as time passed by “real” songs arose from the chaos and in 2004 an EP with the title ‘Lowhover’ was released. The track ‘Hollow’ on the Septic VII compilation was taken from that release. Three years later, to be precise in August 2007, the demo album ‘Nihil’ is finally finished and self-published. The title is Latin and means “Nothing”.


Nico J. – Production, Arrangements, Vocals, Lyrics

Website /

Track Review

01. Proxy - 2:13
In the proper sense of the word a proxy is a representative, a middleman. The intro here has a guiding function. It guides you from the outside into the world of ACRETONGUE, a world that at first very disturbing but slowly becomes more structure and a rhythmic yet experimental base. Layer by layer is added but suddenly almost all disappear to give way to the atmosphere and the textures...

02. Basefader - 5:41
If I would just analyze the title: I’d say a “Basefader” could be a person or a thing that slowly pulls the rug from under you. Bereaves you from your basis of life, but maybe it’s the person itself who started this with its own acting and behaviour. So much for the title, but there’s much more. Some people hold back their own personality to be like all the others or to just not deviate from the scheme, but is that really the goal in life, to be like everyone else and give up ones uniqueness and therefore ones freedom. That would be the total “Extinction of distinction”. Haunting and creepy strings arise and one by one more elements attend to it like different kinds of melodies and then the beat starts which is at this point still very laid-back yet complex but gets more punch later as soon as Nico starts the chant in his insistent style. Accompanied by layers and layers of atmosphere that appear the further the song develops.

03. Voyeur - 6:00
A voyeur is the invisible silence, always anxious not to be heard or seen. He’s the one who lurks in the shadows. You may not see him, but he’s always there and you can never keep any secret He’s watching everything. He is the ghost that’s not a part...The track is started with a single looped melody followed by scattered beats processed with distortion. They’re getting more numerous and when Nico starts with the verse, you hear a melody like a whistling or a wind creating a dense atmosphere. Melodic sequences emerge and disappear after a while. A more straight beat kicks in giving the track more structure and many things happen in the background over the course of the song so there are lots of things to discover here.

04. Trust / Obey - 5:11
They’re telling you since your early childhood to believe in them, to trust them and that if you don’t bad things will happen. But now the doubts are popping up in your mind. Are they telling the truth? Is their way the only right way? But they only want our best or not? The truth is that what lies underneath the surface is most times much more terrifying than we expected. A web of lies conceived to control the ordinary people to distract them from the true intentions of a few powerful people. A synth line fades in which is followed by a short and dark choral which disappears a few seconds later. You’ll recognize faster beat then. I would call it club-orientated even though it’s much more complex than a simple 4/4 beat and the drum sounds change very often. On top of that are layered sounds and sequences filled with this dark atmosphere created by the choral. The distinctive chant of Nico adds to intensify that atmosphere.

05. De_nihil - 5:13
This instrumental track builds up layer by layer. When it starts it is just one single sequence but the further the song goes the more layers appear and if you got used to the added sequence a new one is added or it just disappears to get replaced by a completely new one. Fractured and complex drum constructions are combined with industrial influences and distorted fragments. The mood of this song is a very special one which causes certain wistfulness in me. The track ends with some small piano chords.

06. Estranged - 4:59
Children adapt manners of their parents, some are good and some are bad. The worst case scenario is that children who have been abused by their parents abuse their children as well in case they have children. Attorneys often argue with their bad childhood and that those people can’t be held responsible for what they’ve done. Fact is that those people are responsible for those things and no court in the world can free them from this burden. It was their own decision ... ‘Estranged’ turns out to be a mid-tempo track with lots of textures and atmospheres where you can easily drown in but also a great rhythmical base consisting of multi-layered drums and sounds. Strings aroused as well as some chorals and processed melodic fragments. You’ll discover more details by listening to the track on your headphones.

07. Dragonfly - 4:57
Now we come to one of my absolute favourites on this release. Starting out with a lovely melody sounding like it is generated by a musical clock awakes childhood memories. The same melody but played by a different synth slowly while the other one slowly fades out. Then a rather slow but powerful unusual beat pattern kicks in and after a short while it is Nico’s voice that appears to start the first strophe. Speaking of the voice, the idea with the polyphonic chant in the chorus is awesome. When he raises his voice I’ll always get goose bumps. I would like to hear that more often in future releases. A beautiful piano melody ends a wonderful song in an almost classical way.

08. Émigré (Part I & II) - 6:23
An Émigré is different from a usual emigrant a person who sees the exile as a temporary expedient forced on them by political circumstances. But wouldn’t it be better t start a revolution from the inside instead of leaving everything behind and attack from the outside which is most likely more difficult or just stay away in the hope things would change itself? “The cycle repeats; and you will then see, that rainbows won't change nations, and nothing is free”. As the title already indicates ‘Émigré’ consists of two parts. The first one is the more experimental part with its slow but intricate arrangements and ambient-like soundscapes and string which I like very much because they generate a wonderful dense atmosphere. The vocals are pretty processed with different effects. One of them makes them sound like some samples of it just have been removed. A small bridge leads us to the second and straighter part with a quite danceable beat and many driving sequences.

09. Neverwhere - 5:17
This song radiates a feeling of calmness from the very first note but there’s always this certain feeling or better a notion that something is on its way to you. “It’s quiet noise too loud to hear”. It’s almost like the lyrics mirror what I thought in that particular moment and the image of a wave is created in my mind slowly moving forward to destroy everything so dear to me and when it arrives it washes everything away and all that is left is just silence... Different layers of sound fade in, when the song starts including a male choral sound and some etching that sounds like someone’s gasping to take his last breath. A whispering wind whistling a melody attends to the choral and then it’s time for the first verse. This vocal style is different from the other ones and is more like an angry whispering out of the darkness surrounded by gentle piano chords. During the chorus a noisy layer appears that lets me think of the murmuring of the waves crashing everything on their way. All this is accentuated by a slow and halting beat. A truly sinister but great piece of music! Don’t you think that’s already the end? After minutes of silence, there’s a hidden track which contains an updated instrumental version of ‘Violent Pale’. A track included on the ‘Lowhover’ EP released in 2004.

Cover Picture


Music: 10
Sound: 10
Extras: -
Total: 10


When it comes to electronic music, South Africa was never on my radar and I guess it’s the same with many other people. But now there’s ACRETONGUE and brings some fresh wind using more complex structures in its songs. The project doesn’t go the easy way and doesn’t produce simple dance music even though some of the tracks like ‘Basefader’ or ‘Trust / Obey’ are a little bit more beat driven. But the really important thing with ACRETONGUE is the atmosphere and you’ll find lots of it on this release. Many textures strings and soundscapes giving the songs even more depth and creating moods and images before your mind’s eye. If you take a look at the lyrics you’ll see that there’s much room for everyone’s own interpretation. I also like the way the lyrics are written. Almost like poems. I hope that a label approaches Nico soon because it’s really a shame, more people don’t get the chance to hear his music.

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