Reviews — BEVEL

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For over a decade, Via Nuon has been quietly creating a treasure trove of ethereal, outré folk.


September 2007 Mystical Stupid 


Bevel - Phoenician Terrane (CD, Contraphonic, Progressive)

Before we begin here...we're going to warn you that we are probably are not going to be able to adequately describe this music and what it actually sounds like. While the instruments involved aren't that unusual (guitars, violins, bass, flute, clarinet, saxophone, vibraphone, drums, electronics)...the way the pieces are put together is decidedly odd and foreign. Bevel is a solo project created by Chicago's Via Nuon who was previously in the bands Drunk and Manishevitz. Phoenician Terrane is a collection of soft, moody, pensive, and peculiar pieces that don't follow traditional formulas and patterns. Unlike many new artists who try extremely hard to sound unique and different, however, Nuon seems to just be following his own individual internal drive. Some of these segments come across sounding like a small string quartet...other pieces are more abstract...while occasionally the music sounds almost normal. We really like Nuon's voice. Instead of sounding perfect, his voice seems somewhat fragile and at times slightly unpracticed and uncertain. This is one of those cases where you're going to have to hear the music in order to draw your own conclusions. We find some of these tracks puzzling...while others are beautiful and strangely perplexing. Interesting stuff. (Rating: 5)




(Contraphonic Music)

As I sat and read the biography that accompanies Bevel's Phoenician Terrane LP, I am taken away by the beautiful sense of freedom and life that's delivered in their description. The words themselves take you on a journey to lands near and far and they delicately portray the story of the songs.

I wasn't disappointed either as, when I put the CD in, my mind emptied as the room filled up with the gentle notes of soft flute and violin. Quite simply, I was immediately swept up into the colourful whirlwind of sweet day dreaming and before I knew it, I was on track 4! My journey which started upon the highest mountain breathing in the fresh crisp air had suddenly emerged into a bristling gallery of sky-scraping trees. I also explored a bustling market where spices and herbs crowded my nose and the colours of silk shone brightly in my eyes.

This album is mainly instrumental, however Via Nuon does appear every so often adding a sadness to the music with his mystical vocal. These two contrasts twist the songs into a new dimension. When they are working together, misty clouds approach and unsettle the listener, obscuring their sight and slowing down their reactions. It's like a spiritual force that takes control of the dream and leads you down a unnerving path of bends and obstacles, but teases you by allowing your destination to still be in sight.

This LP is a refreshing listen, and wherever your journey takes you, you are sure to feel a bit more enlightened afterwards.

Written By: Beckie A (815 - ) View The Mag Team

Date: 17/01/2008



Bevel - Phoenician Terrane


Psych-folk veteran Via Nuon proves once again that it is possible, in that genre over-stuffed with wannabes and frauds, to make stunning personal music, uncompromising in its experimentation and sense of play, both joyful and ominous at once. “Phoenician Terrane” finds Nuon using a basic framework of guitar, piano and voice, with the addition of reeds, drums and electronics to deepen the groove; odd time signatures or jarring musical/lyric collisions are not for show, or to justify the quirkiness of the artist. They are the artist, and his vision reflects none but his. 

Melancholy and orchestral, breezy and ambient; Nuon creates moods that are believable and memorable. To listen to the openness, in every sense of that word, of tracks like “Low Income Glade” and “(Vice Versa) Protect What You Love” is to know you are in the hands of someone who knows exactly what he is doing. More somber tunes like “Balustrada” and “The Purchase” somehow fit as well; the range of emotion rings true because the artist has gained your trust.

This is gorgeous and uncomfortable music; nothing especially new or daring, but powerful through Nuon’s taking chances with various sounds and adding his own voice to them. 8/10 -- Mike Wood (14 November, 2007)






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Contraphonic Rec.Bevel : Phoenician Terrane (US,2007)****


Bevel is a solo project of Via Nuon, a Chicago based artist who was active before with the groups Drunk and Manishevitz (besides he also participated with Tanakh, Boxhead Ensemble, Edith Frost, and Shannon Wright). Since 2000 he released three solo albums on Jagjaguwar. This well arranged album is his fourth release.


Sometimes some voices give a strange feeling that they almost use a “wrong” tonal and melodic harmony approach compared to the obvious and usual singing style, perhaps because once they started from not being able to sing that well, and then exploited and developed it into a different but convincing technique, or use their voice in a weird theatre-like way (like Dead Western) or deformed way (just like Tom Waits and Bob Dylan). Via Nuon sings with strange moving up and down oscillations like a snake on a rock, then climbing up and down with curiosity, while the arrangements themselves are more solid as a rock, more directly recognizable. These arrangements are very chamber-like, with violin orchestrations (by Karl Runge and Laraine Kaiser), combined with all kinds of keyboards (with interesting overtones), and different guitars (additionally added by Michael Krassner and Tim Rutilli) some electric and upright bass (Ryan Kennedy) sparse percussion (Gerald Dowd), with bits of flute, clarinet or sax (Nate Lepine), or vibraphone (Jason Adasciewicz). On a track like “A Forest Ends the special colours of Via’s voice could slightly be compared to Ian Curtis voice from Joy Division (especially on this track). With each listen the whole thing captures more attention from me, so that a voice like “Balustrada” becomes almost like a favourite for this strangeness. The sweetest and most classically-melodically driven arrangements I think can be found on the last track, “Quiet Resort II” (orchestrations, acoustic guitars, flute). 


A special album, beautifully worked out to perfection.




March 2002

March 2002


Where Leaves Block the Sun, Jagjaguwar

Ghostly folk-noir from Drunk's Via Nuon, aided by a host of Chicago's finest musicians.

Not a million musical miles from Drunk's Southern gothic soundscapes, Via Nuon's second outing as Bevel sees him joined by a formidable complement of Chicago talent. Calling themselves The Council Of Rousseau, producer/ arranger Michael Krassner and his cohorts, including Jessica Billy, Mick Turner and Scott Tuma, embellish Bevel's minor-key melancholia with strings, horns and piano to weave a rich phantom tapestry. Built around Nuon's faintly straining tones and delicately picked guitar, Where Leaves... drifts along like a series of hallucinatory snapshots of bygone America. It's an understated yet haunting collection, at times reminiscent of Lambchop's lush orchestration (Generosity), Gatr Del Sol's pastoral folk (Lamp Post), even Thin White Rope at their most shadowy (Through Reflection Inhabits). Subtly arranged and brimming with warmth, this is an album guaranteed to take the chill out of any number of long winter nights. Andrew Carden




Bevel “Twin Knowledge

Bevel is back with their fifth installment, first since 2007's Phoenician Terrane(Contraphonic). Bevel has long been the psych-folk project of Via Nuon, but this album's supporting cast is 14 strong and filled with a collection of the city's best musicians including Joe Adamik (Califone, Iron & Wine), Nick Macri (Zincs, Horseʼs Ha), Phil Spirito (oRSo, Rex), Jason Adasiewicz, and Emily Cross. The new album, Twin Knowledge, is subdivided into four movements over 19 incredible tracks and will be released on June 6th.

Published: May 08, 2013



10. 16. 2007

10. 16. 2007


Bevel - Low Income Glade (Contraphonic 2007)

Bevel – Phoenician Terrane / Contraphonic

One question seems to be repeatedly raised while I am reviewing albums, a musical chicken-or-egg conundrum. Is the music affecting my mood, or is my mood affecting how I perceive the music? It is eerie how often the album I just happened to be reviewing that day seems to match my current state of mind. For example, this morning the grey clouds are looming just outside my window, a chill wind is tumbling through the trees with unwarranted disgust, and my mind is full of sober thoughts on what appears to be the beginning of the much delayed fall season here in Chicago. And it just so happens that next in my review queue fits the mood to a tee, the latest album from Via Nuon’s Bevel moniker.  Phoenician Terrane, Nuon’s first for Chicago-based Contraphonic Music, is a lulling, eerily looming psych-folk album that is very much appropriate for soundtracking a chilly, grey-skied morning of wandering thoughts and solemn moods, but certainly not because it is a monochromatic sound.

Via Nuon, a Chicago-via-Richmond, VA musician and composer, has been pursuing the possibilities of ethereal folk music for the last eight years as a solo artist. Also a member of Drunk and Manishevitz as well as being an oft-contributor for Edith Frost and Simon Joyner, Nuon’s Bevel alias has been gaining momentum with three well-received albums for Bloomington, IN’s psychedelic-whatever label Jagjaguwar. Releasing an album every two years since 2000, Bevel became an outlet for Nuon’s explorations into lush, haunting folk music, a contrast created between his penchant for blossoming instrumentals centered around a twangy guitar strum or a delicate piano melody and his ghostly vocals.

Phoenician Terrane does nothing to break this established tradition; Nuon crafting aching, fragile compositions and layering them with near-cinematic displays of lush instrumentation. Enlisting a talented array of auxiliary musicians to further develop the sound, including members of similarly sounding acts like Califone, Boxhead Ensemble and Manishevitz, the album is innately nostalgic, but for exactly what is uncertain. This longing feeling looms throughout, dragging its feet in a psychedelic haze, briefly following a warm tone here or a delicate melody there, but rarely finding a complete oasis in the solemn fog. Most importantly though, it is never suffocated in its emotional weight; the songs only occassionaly reach past the three-minute mark, and Nuon never milks a heartstring-plucking melody into melodramatic territory.  Phoenician Terrane is more a display in compositional dexterity and honest emotional resonance that treads water somewhere between the sound pools of Califone, The Dirty Three and Magnetic Fields.

Maybe Nuon and his ensemble’s greatest achievement of the album is their altruistic approach to composing with the great amount of lush instrumentation involved. No singular tone or instrument ever completely takes the spotlight; instead they always seem to be lightly accentuating the songwriting. During “Balustrada” for example, the core of the song is a very simple chord progression on guitar and Nuon’s aching baritone, but continuously swirling around it are Karate-like electric guitar noodles, swelling analog synthesizers, vibraphone embellishments and distant echoing vocals. Or with the early highlight “Low Income Glade,” the focus is a very simple folk song, but the pirouetting, gypsy-like violin and flute lines along with the subtle synthesizer and guitar feedback lift the track into psychedelic levels.

The painting on the back cover of Phoenician Terrane pretty much sums up the album. There is just a speckle of red paint surrounding an array heavy, textured brush strokes of somber olive green. Though it is just a minute fleck, the red is the focus of your attention thanks to its chromatically opposite surroundings, no matter how textured and detailed the green paint may be. Though Nuon’s songwriting is rather simple, the musical atmosphere he has composed around it amplifies its resonance tenfold. I am not exactly sure whether the solemn music of Phoenician Terrane or the looming weather outside is setting my melancholy mood, the album shines brightly amidst its current grey-skied surroundings.


Music Won't Save You

Music Won't Save You

BEVEL – Twin Knowledge

(Maroon Desert Fountain, 2013)

È una gradita sorpresa ritrovare Via Nuon a una produzione discografica del suo alter-ego artistico Bevel, a ben sei anni di distanza dal precedente “Phoenician Terrane”, album che sembrava indirizzare in via definitiva il chitarrista di stanza a Chicago – già membro dei fondamentali Drunk e collaboratore, tra gli altri, di Simon Joyner – verso torsioni psichedeliche del suo folk gentile e dagli accenti letterari.

Le ben diciannove tracce di “Twin Knowledge” sono a loro volta una narrazione sospesa tra il reale di traditional sudisti, divagazioni desertiche e l’immaginario impressionistico di partiture strumentali di obliqui chiaroscuri folk. Nonostante l’abituale concisione di Via Nuon – qui supportato da musicisti quali Joe Adamik (Califone, Iron & Wine), Nick Macri (Zincs) e Phil Spirito (oRSo, Rex) – la rassegna di vignette sonore del lavoro è più che sufficiente a plasmare l’album come qualcosa di più di una tarda delizia riservata ai (troppo pochi) cultori di Bevel e in generale di quella scena artistica che dalla metà degli anni Novanta ai primi del Duemila caratterizzò gli esordi dell’etichetta Jagjaguwar.

Da molti dei brani di “Twin Knowledge” si ricava infatti la medesima sensazione di precisione lenta e vagamente straniante dell’orchestrina-Drunk, virata ora verso tinte oscure, ora verso più aggraziati paesaggi bucolici, senza tuttavia smarrire mai la sensazione di sottile inquietudine di uno spettrale ensemble da camera. Violini, fiati e frammenti pianistici rifiniscono così preziosi interludi strumentali ed essenziali ballate che spaziano con disinvoltura da polverosi paesaggi desertici (“Orca Wails”) a romantici abbandoni a un sentimento declinato con estrema grazia (“Our 2nd Winter Correspondence”).

Un ritorno davvero piacevole, che lascia (ri)scoprire un artista abituato a operare nell’ombra ma, forse proprio in quanto tale, capace di creare rare atmosfere di un chamber-folk delicatamente inquieto.



Bevel/ 5 Blättchen bleiben noch/ Rainer


die wie ein rollender Baumstamm gegen das Schienbein prallt. Gleichgewichtsverluste, ein windschief-kursives Zittern über dem Text, das heifct, vielleicht, vielleicht Zittern, mit höchster Wahrscheinlichkeit ist es nur ein Wackeln, kaum merklich, in die eigene Bewegung versunken. Wer weiji das schon.

Exitrance lautete der Titel, mit dem das zweite Album von «Bevel, Where leaves block the sun» offnet. Der Titel spricht fur sich, die Musik malt Bilder, sie taucht die folgenden Stücke in eine unmissverstandliche Farbe: Es ist Herbst, die Jahreszeit des Abschieds, Neues kann eintreten, das vergilbte Blattwerk, das mit dem nachsten Windstoji vom vertrauten Ast zu wehen droht, es ist nur eine Frage der Zeit, bis selbst die Hartnackigsten zur Erde trudeln und die letzte Bewegung der Natur ausfuhren. Es ist ein sonniger Herbsttag, der den Sommer seines fehlenden Einfallsreichtums uberfuhrt, die Farben, Warme fur das Auge, diewundersame und irritierende Kuhle auf der Haut, Tau, Kristallketten an kantigen Spinnweben, die Sonne, ein Muff fur die Sinne, schimmert wie durch die dunne, noch weij?>e Leinwand des Malers, «Pathos» hat sich langst von der Leine

gerissen und durchwuhlt das Unterholz nach Kaninchen, hin und wieder ertont ihr kurzes Kreischen, wie der eines entsetzten Kindes. Ein Mann flaniert durch das Waldstuck, die Textzeile eines namenlos gewordenen Gedichts

tropft wie von einem farbsatten Pinsel auf ein Blatt hinter seinen Augen. «Wer sich noch kein Haus gebaut hat, der tut es nimmermehr.» Hie£ es wirklich so? Stimmt das? Er hangelt sich von einer Wegbiegung zur nachsten, urn die Erschopfung aufzuschieben, die Schuhsohlen knirschen auf dem Boden. Er hat das Gerausch langst vergessen, es ist da und doch verbirgt es sich hinter dem Paravent der Gleichformigkeit. Der Wald sieht sich selbst vor lauter Baumen

nicht, kichert etwas in ihn herein, erzwungen und mude, ja, fremd diese Erheiterung. Jemand wandert mit ihm, dieser redet ununterbrochen, er kann sehen, wie der andere spricht, wenn er sich umdreht, er lauft hinter ihm, horen kann er

ihn nicht, manchmal holt er auf, lauft neben ihm, schweigend, dann lasst er sich wieder zuruckfallen und plappert, plappert Hande fuchtelnd. Ein Wind kommt auf, die Worte, die der Hintermann mit sich selbst wechselt, uberbringt er ihm wie einen Schnipsel eines Briefes. «lch eifere denen nach, die in ihrer Sprache auf einem schmalen Steg tanzeln, ihre

Perfektion geht so weit, dass selbst die Ausrutscher einstudiert sind, gewollt, sie steigern die Spannung, die jedoch in keine Effekt heischende Akrobatik kulminiert und sich darin auflost, der Hohepunkt der Kur bleibt aus, weshalb sie sich halt, die Spannung.» Der Weg steigt an, windet sich als Spirale einen Berg empor, die Kurven haufen sich, er sieht seinen Begleiter nur noch selten, wenige Schritte und schon ist er wieder verschwunden hinter einem rostbraunen Hugel, horen kann er nichts mehr von ihm, er schliejit nicht mehr das rest Tapsen I'm Dunkeln, an Kanten stoßen, man sight is night, eine Unebenheit,

Numero 41 Fevrier 2002

Numero 41 Fevrier 2002


Les lettres du XIXe siècle et le cinéma

indepéndent des années 1970 nourrissent ses

longs travellings mélancoliques


Dernier rejeton du lignage discret d'où descendent Vic Chesnutt ou Will Oldham, Bevel s'est voué à la restauration patrimoniale du folk américain. Mais comme le ferait un jeune homme cultivé vivant à Chicago et revant d'une Europe aux chimeres: «Des landes sauvages decrites par Emily Bronte dans les «Hauts de Hurlevent» aux scènes forestières primitives imagineés par Le Douanier Rousseau, renvironnement agit comme la metaphore d'une conscience humaine étouffée.» Le cinéma moderne est l'autre parent de cet artisanat en totale rupture avec les critères esthétiques de son époque: «Sans emploij'avais du temps libre. Pour me détourner l'esprit de la musique, j'ai commencé a regarder beaucoup de films, jusqu' à deux ou trois par jour quelquefois.» Particulièrement ceux des années 70, pendant lesquelles «il se passait beaucoup de choses intéressantes. En Allemagne, Herzog, Wenders et Fassbinder mettaient en scène des oeuvres tellement singulières. De ce double héritage vient cette écriture forte en thème mais jamais ramenarde, travaillée par la fascination pour les beautés virginales de la musique appalachienne et du bluegrass.

Le mystère de sa réussite demeure cependant. Car, cn dépit d'arrangements gracieux qui confèrent à cet album des moyens plus assures qu'au précedént, Bevel ne compose pas de chansons à proprement parler. A la place, des plages instrumentales se déroulent comme de lents travellings mélancoliques, qu'aimante parfois une voix emplie de gravité.

Bevel n'est pas un honorable songwriter supplétif, illustrant un genre que d'autres avant lui porterent à la perfection. II est, comme Townes Van Zandt à qui on l'a quelquefois comparé, «un fantôme dans le château de l’Amérique», reprisant une histoire en lambeaux. Damien Bonelli