Adam  Torres / Nostra Nova
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Adam Torres / Nostra Nova


Band Folk Acoustic


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"Southeast Engine Sideman Breaks New Ground with Debut Disc"

Talk about starting off with a bang.

Adam Torres, singer-songwriter and one of the guitarists/vocalists in Southeast Engine, is releasing his first solo effort with his own musical collective Nostra Nova. The album is appropriately called ..Nostra Nova,.. and it..s a helluva debut. Torres and his cohorts have pieced together a truly impressive LP, which oscillates between the bittersweet, evocative folk of Jeff Magnum and Jeff Buckley, and delightfully ingenious experiments in instrumentation that are strikingly close to Devendra Barnhart and Bright Eyes.
The album opens with the delicate ..Voices from the Top of the Mountain,.. which seems to lament something lost, while celebrating a new beginning at the same time .. an idea which seems tied to many of the tenets of Eastern religions such as Buddhism or Taoism. This idea of dichotomy reappears often in Torres.. lyrics .. speaking of a true love that will watch his ..heart explode.. in ..Rosemarie.. or praising a questionably understanding destiny in ..Fate is Kind...
However, following the beautiful, but relatively simple ..Voices from the Top of the Mountain,.. the album gets infinitely more complex. Samples of manhole covers being dropped, organs and the strange perversions of a saxophone all make an appearance in the following songs. Thankfully, Torres always seems to keep a sensibility when it comes to the core of his writing .. an honest center that is sonically hinted at, if you peel the orchestral layers away.
And orchestral is the proper word for many of the compositions on ..Nostra Nova... ..Breakneck Jane..s Fifteen Minute Escape.. swells with a cacophony of strings near its noise fraught conclusion, ..The Butlers and the Maids.. seems creepily lush with twisted vocals of a ghostly chorus meandering throughout the song, and ..El Vuelo de la Paloma.. is filled with a similar vocal chorus underneath a chimey organ.
If there..s been an album of this inventive quality on the Athens scene in the past five years, I certainly haven..t heard it.
However, not all of Torres.. efforts on the CD are esoteric forays. ..Dusty Wing Spirit.. and ..Fate is Kind.. are both straight ahead folk tunes that showcase only Torres.. haunting voice. And still other songs are tasteful band pieces, such as ..Now that it..s Morning.. and ..things Learned from Bells... ..Nostra Nova.. is certainly a mixed bag of an album, but it has the ebb and flow of a cohesive production created with thoughtfulness and obvious talent.
One of the standout tracks is the fuzzy rocker ..Rosemarie,.. a personal favorite of mine from Torres.. live sets. However, on the album it has a much heavier, jangly full-band arrangement that is reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel songs like ..Ghost.. or ..Holland, 1945... It..s catchy as hell, though. Torres pulls you in with wicked hooks and keeps you close and personal with his trademark bittersweet imagery.
However, the accomplishment of the album does not belong solely to Torres (although he should be lauded for his excellent songwriting). The collaborating musicians (drawn mostly from Torres.. band mates in Southeast Engine) who perform on the album also share in the glory, as they give the LP..s arrangements the requisite shot in the arm. Josh Antonuccio especially, who contributed musical talent as well as technical prowess by engineering Torres.. recording sessions, once again demonstrates his quality in the studio.
Torres was lucky enough to employ the services of mastering engineer Jeff Lipton, who has previously worked with The Magnetic Fields, Wilco/Jeff Tweedy and Soul Asylum. Truth be told, the copy of the CD is the studio cut of the album, before Lipton has had a chance to apply his considerable talent. I can only dare to dream what the result will be in Torres.. case...
The albums.. appeal is grounded in its inventiveness and its sanity. Torres keeps his arrangements intriguing but approachable, appealing to his audience..s imagina - The Athens Messenger

"Poetic Lyrics Accent Smooth Sound"

The Nostra Nova LP is simply beautiful.

Adam Torres, guitarist and vocalist for Southeast Engine, collaborated with Trista Hill, Bruce Dalzell and other local artists for his debut album. Over an eclectic array of instruments, including a harpsichord and chimes, a mellowed Torres delivers poetic lyrics.

He starts off the record with its strongest piece, ..Voices From the Top of the Mountain (Sleepwalking Blues),.. a melancholy lullaby that softly lulls the listener into a dreamy stupor with harp and acoustic guitar.

Torres wakes back up with ..The Butlers and the Maids,.. an apocalyptic march that conjures images of Maurice Sendak..s fierce beasts in Where the Wild Things Are. Like Max..s bedroom transformed into a forest and ocean that he navigates with a tiny boat, ..Butlers.. offers a scene of grim depths navigated only by a quivering falsetto. Torres repeatedly pronounces, ..The sky looks like a stove,.. before launching into a panic: ..It..s raining spiders and sooty furnaces/ That keep in the corners of our home/ That was built with love/ That was built over bones...

Although the instrumentals are certainly striking and are featured in the choral track ..El Vuelo de la Paloma,.. Torres.. voice carries the album. His unique vocals cover a range of notes and moods. Far from the repetitive slump quiet acoustics can fall into, Torres.. collection of songs is diverse and engaging.

Lyrics on the LP linger long after its final song fades away, particularly the beautiful poetry of ..Rosemarie... In it, Torres sings: ..I dreamt that you were sleeping by my side/ Umbrellaed on my shoulder like a child...

Torres.. poetic lines are at times blunt, but more often obtuse. Sometimes childishly innocent, he is more often solemn. He seamlessly melds seeming dichotomies, not just within the same album, but also within songs. In ..Rosemarie,.. the silliness of a ..lollipop to make your tongue turn blue.. is followed by a vivid scene: ..Through the hospital window/ Out into the wind and snow/ In which I..ll die...

Every single song, each a compelling testament to the adage that ..less is more,.. has something distinctive to offer. Even with a lineup of eclectic instruments, the music stays subdued, simple and audibly manageable. The result is powerful and elegant. - The Post

"Nostra Nova Gears Up to Explode"

Incendiary intensity. An explosion of starlight. A nova.

A nova is a star that inexplicably multiplies its typical luminance by thousands for a certain period of time. For Southeast Engine guitarist/vocalist Adam Torres and his brainchild Nostra Nova, that time is now.

Set to ignite the Athens sky this Friday, Nov. 3, Nostra Nova is the radiant, 11-track end result of a year..s worth of work put forth by Torres. While Torres wrote every song on the album and is responsible for the album artwork, he also is the guitarist and sole vocalist. However, he was not alone in the twinkling creation of Nostra Nova. Marching behind Torres throughout the duration of the project was a talented enlistment of instrument-wielding musicians, all indigenous to Ohio, including Torres.. Southeast Engine band mates Leo DeLuca, Michael Lachman and Josh Antonuccio.

The recording process was chartered through 3 Elliott Studio here in Athens, and Torres and Antonuccio took care of all the album engineering and production. Mastering the record required stretching beyond the familiar confines of local production and blasting Nostra Nova off to Peerless Mastering in Boston, Mass., into the able hands of Jeff Lipton, who has worked with bands such as Wilco and Big Star in the past.

Nostra Nova is an incandescent indie folk fusion of unique instrumentals, poetically thematic lyrics, melodic beauty and endearing vocals. The delicate simplicity of perfectly layered strains of music creates a warm cradle for Torres.. striking voice. His vocals are a smooth tonic, a slight suggestion of John Mayer infused with intensity and heartfelt emotion.

At the core of the album..s sound is a frugally acoustic style reminiscent of Elliott Smith wherein drumming and percussion are typically minimal, giving way to strong vocals and precise melody. Nostra Nova goes on to add distinctive instruments such as the glockenspiel and tambourine into the basic formula, enriching and solidifying the album. The multitude of eccentric instruments that the musicians have to work with assures that each song will have flawlessly matching lyrics and sound.

The matching up of sound and lyrics is extremely well done in Nostra Nova. The album is a bit of a concept album, revolving around a theme of colorful dreaming. The first track, ..Voices From the Top of the Mountain (Sleepwalking Blues),.. has only a dainty, lilting acoustic backbone and vocals until a flowery harp solo dips in midway through the song with a swift, soothing performance that insinuates a lullaby. The brief, transitional solo serves as a leading tone for the remainder of the album, as though it is the beginning of a night..s sleep.

Torres.. lyrics dance continually with surrealistic poetry as the rest of Nostra Nova plays on. The three-second gap between ..Voices From the Top of the Mountain.. and track two, ..The Butlers and the Maids,.. is a proverbial chute down the rabbit hole, sliding instantaneously from light and airy to heavy and haunting.

..The Butlers and the Maids.. elicits the uncomfortable feeling of a foreboding nightmare with its steady, distant crash of tribal drums and choruses of wordless, eerie harmonies hiding behind Torres.. words. His vocals are high-pitched and nearly frantic, and his alternating between just two pitches during the verses instead of the usual range adds to a surmounting feeling of discomfort. No other song on the album is quite as fantastically nightmare reminiscent as ..The Butlers and the Maids... Although the following songs often harbor lyrics that are determinably sad, the rest of the album is fairly musically upbeat.

Nostra Nova is the entire package. Cohesive sound, intelligent lyrics, pleasing vocals and undeniable creative energy all dwell at the heart of the album, all four of which burst from the speakers with the intensity of a lucid dream - Speakeasy Magazine


LP -- Nostra Nova (2006)



Nostra Nova is a perservering little thing. Song-writer Adam Torres has been writing for years and it shows. All of these songs were written in Switzerland. However, Nostra Nova is from a relatively obscure yet vivacious midwestern town of Athens, Ohio. Nostra Nova has the ability to silence a room in a good way.