Photo by Richard Brandon Yates

On ‘Birth/Decay,’ Nightspace Dances With the Dark

Nightspace’s sophomore release might be their creepiest yet.

In just a brief amount of time, Bailey Skye has gained notoriety in the Seattle music scene for their sui generis brand of “dreamcore space punk” under the name Nightspace. Since making a splash with their entry at EMP’s 2015 Sound Off! competition, the artist has held audiences rapt with an eerie, atmospheric alien-goth sound. Now, on their second and latest release, Birth/Decay, out Sept. 22, Skye translates the otherworldly ethos of their live shows to tape.

Skye is a master at creating a sense of the uncanny, a skill surely honed through their penchant for performance. The record’s intro begins with an unsettling shower of crystalline chimes, instilling in the listener the same sense of unease you feel during a suspiciously calm scene in a horror film. That knot of tension follows for the rest of the record, never dissolving quite completely.

As you might expect from the title, Birth/Decay swims in the murky liminal space between life and death. Skye’s gift is their ability to locate the macabre in even the liveliest, and nowhere is this more evident than on the track “Breastfed.” Propelled by an anxious, pulsating beat, the song fuzzes and fluoresces with crackling electric energy. Skye wails like a distraught infant, the distorted ululations pumping in a bleak crescendo.

The standout track “Dead Rose” is a cascade of shivery, sibilant synths and sighs that connote graveyard dance parties. Skye’s unearthly vocals here contort and unfurl like fingers of mist rising from a fog machine at a haunted house. The production is crisper than on Skye’s previous work, lending a frosty finish to the undercurrent of unhinged yelps and howls.

Because of the air of darkness that haunts it, Birth/Decay is a difficult record to listen to on repeat—all that impending mortality is tough to swallow in a single sitting. But that discomfort is exactly where its power lies: It’s a modern-day memento mori, reminding the listener that death is lurking just around the corner. Nightspace tape release with Youryoungbody, DoNormaal, and Lilac. Kremwerk, 1809 Minor Ave. #10, 682-2935, $5–$10. 21 and over. 8 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 22.

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