We Don’t Know Why But We Do It
he tentative beginning of Nitrada’s We Don’t Know Why But We Do It perhaps says better the end result of this music’s effect than a review of the record ever could. A lowly mixed stuttering guitar eeks out two short notes, only to be overtaken by an orchestral swell of repetitive notes. The song continues in this manner for its length, sounding as though the guitar is never quite properly plugged into the amp, while the strings independently swell every so often. A voice murmurs in the background, saying little memorable, hidden beneath the murk of feedback and violin. A sonar beat holds the piece together, beginning in the right channel and ending in the left. And then everything cuts out, except for the voice, clearly repeating the lines previously barely heard. Over it’s course, the song revels in its indeterminancy, rarely allowing itself to coalesce into something resembling a melody.
Unfortunately, while the mood of the first piece is maintained throughout the album, the mysterious quality of the music soon gives way to Morr Music-esque meanderings that lack the innate pop sense of the label. What we have instead is a strange middle ground between the obvious wants of Nitrada: to maintain the moody atmosphere evoked in the first song and on the cover art and the lack of assured songwriting that Christophe Stoll produces. It’s not that Stoll doesn’t know how to write good songs. It’s that Stoll doesn’t seem to know what kinds of songs he wants to write, spreading his time between stabs at pop length instrument-driven electronica (the title track), click-pop that evokes Lali Puna (“Fading Away”) and the amorphous ambient wanderings of the introduction (“The Only Solution”).
Musically, the songs are frequently composed entirely via electronic means, containing twerked click beats and melodies built from morse code signals. But, as stated, Stoll keeps the construction of the album varying throughout, bringing a large number of instruments to realize his vision. Stoll is joined by uncredited female vocalists on a handful of the tracks here, splitting the duties nicely between them, instrumentals and his own vocals.
Overall, though, the failure to have the album coalesce into a meaningful whole—especially one that relies so heavily on a certain snowy mood—hinders it from being a success. Instead, the album functions as a chance to be entertained by Stoll’s ability in programming a diverse amount of sounds into the album’s palette and disappointed in his inability to put them together in an altogether affecting way.