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Elaborate Devices For Filtering Crisis

Elaborate Devices For Filtering Crisis
(Tigerbeat6 Records)

Upon first listen, this is easily the most serious release that I've heard from the Tigerbeat6 label in a long time. I was drawn in by the nicely-designed cover, and then consistently tugged-at by the music contained within. With 9 musicians taking part in the proceedings, Nudge is something like a Northwest indie/electronic supergroup, with members hailing from groups as diverse as Fontanelle, Jessamine, Strategy, and Jackie-O-Motherfucker. The main person behind it all is Outward Music Company label head Brian Foote, who invited musicians to come and play improvised sessions before chopping, editing, and generally tweaking the proceedings into this 10 track, 45-minute release.

Comparisons could probably be made to Supersilent, another group whose releases are culled from large batches of improvised jams, except Foote definitely twiddles with the performances, resulting in songs that are loose and sometimes odd and make use of some very interesting effects and production techniques. As a result, the release retains a lot of that improvised feel without being overly indulgent.

Opening with "Blue Screen," the group pulls off what sounds like a slightly more deconstructed take on Bjork might be. Warm synth pads burrow in the background while clicking and swelling electronics just sort of wash over everything as Honey Owens adds breathy vocals that just swim alongside everything. The entire track just sort of ebbs and flows along naturally, eventually dissolving into a fading whir. "Til The Sun Expands" takes on a bit more of a melodic-IDM feel, loping along with filtered guitars and brokedown beats while "Love-In Accident" latches on to more of a live-band feel, grittying things up with some dirty bass and synth lines while some flute weaves through it all. It's some gritty electronic funk, but it works.

"Multiply It By What Remains" is another track that feels like it it's always on the verge of collapse. Owens again adds some warm vocals while subtle percussion and guitar is ocassionally sound-gated, letting only brittle fragments slip through behind the vocals which slowly build to a soar. Just in case there hadn't been enough interesting sonics, "Alarm Wrestle" sounds like a twitching remix of a Tortoise track, complete with hitched-up vibraphone melodies and rich horns.

Despite the large variety of sounds and styles on the album, it works surprisingly well. Part of the reason for this is that things are kept loose and pieces are allowed to breath. The album feels more like a large sound collage that definitely has things in common, and that's what keeps it on the rails. Although I mentioned Tortoise above, it's hard to really compare the disc to any artists in particular. It's obviously a bunch of talented musicians having fun, and it will likely appeal to both fans of electronic music and those who have a liberal interest in post rock (yes, I still use that term). It combines a bit of jazz, funk, IDM, glitch, ambient, and tons of other things into a release that will keep you guessing and hearing new things for many listens. Had I not known, I would have never pegged it for a TB6 release, but I guess those pranksters like to keep me guessing.

Rating: 8