NNA090: Nerftoss – ‘Crushed’ CS
NNA is proud to be the home for the latest full length album from Baltimore, Maryland electronic artist Nerftoss, aka John Jones (also of the group Dope Body). Fans of Nerftoss’s previous output can expect the same lush, nuanced sound environments that Jones so expertly crafts, but this time in a more dance-driven, club-friendly setting that pays homage to, while also creatively advancing, the essence of house music. On “Crushed”, Jones creates a colorful and driving set of house-inspired vignettes that flow together effortlessly, providing respites along the way in the form of warped ambient electronic segues that allow the listener to recalibrate before the ecstatic four-on-the-floor rhythms transport you back to the dancefloor. Nerftoss utilizes a healthy dose of dreamy yet off-kilter plunderphonic sampling techniques that align with fellow Baltimore-based electronic music contemporaries (and NNA alumni) such as Co La and PHORK, but integrated into the jazzy melodic chords and metronomic rhythms that are classically associated with house music. What makes these tracks especially unique, however, is the sampling of live acoustic percussion (drum kits, maracas, congas, bells, and so on) in conjunction with the traditional electronic drum machines of techno to comprise the dynamic beats. When these hybrid breakbeats are combined with the thick, deep melodic bass lines, the results are extremely powerful, intricate rhythms that create an auditory all-city block party, commanding the human body to move with the music. Cascading drum rolls, Latin rhythms, and funky shakers all dance in unison with the swirling, psychedelic textures and pounding bass kicks, creating a parade of global thump between your ears. The steamy ambient passages are used to alter the mood, but the lack of silence between tracks gives the album a continuous “megamix” tempo, as if you’re listening to the artist DJ-ing his own tracks live in the club. All of these elements together make “Crushed” not only a refreshing and progressive listen, but also a blissful bouquet of melody, texture, dynamics, layering, and fidelity that is the definitive signature of a talented producer’s chops.
NNA091: Fox/Soper Duo – ‘Magenta Line’ CS
“Magenta Line” is the debut recorded offering from the Fox/Soper Duo, consisting of New York City musicians Greg Fox on drums, and Ryan Soper on modular synthesizer. Soper, an inventive sculptor, video artist, and modular synthesist makes up one half of the NYC-based performance project Non-Native, and is also a member of the A/V trio Brat Pit. Fox is a prolific drummer known for his work in experimental metal outfit Liturgy, as well as bands such as Guardian Alien and Zs, not to mention countless collaborations ranging from Colin Stetson to Dan Deacon to Hieroglyphic Being. On “Magenta Line”, the duo takes on a form that is unexpected for an acoustic-meets-electronic style collaboration. Fox’s drums are slightly filtered and engineered to take on an alien, electronic quality that compliments Soper’s organic, expressive execution of his synth, to the point where the two styles meet in the middle to produce fierce and otherworldly results. For an instrument that manipulates purely electronic impulses, Soper manages to play it in an incredibly physical manner, buzzing, squealing, and roaring in all it’s distorted glory like an electric guitar. Fox’s ability to react and interact naturally with Soper’s synth is remarkable, and a rare feat that few drummers can effectively accomplish. The outcome of this fusion is a style that leans more towards industrial, punk, or metal than it does to jazz or modern improvisation. Unrelenting in it’s exploration, “Magenta Line” gives way to a new style altogether, yielding nearly 45 minutes of uninterrupted gritty and grinding cyborg thrash. Both artists demonstrate a very high level of skill and versatility with their chosen instrument. Fox and Soper each speak their own alien musical language to each other, meeting head-to-head in terms of the range of expression they can achieve with their expansive arsenal of mastered techniques. At times, Soper’s distorted sequences lock into place, providing the rhythmic backdrop for Fox to drum circles around, while at other times Fox lays down heavy, direct beats for Soper to explore the full range of free electronic shredding his synth is capable of. Musical form is firmly established, while extreme sonic and textural freedom is still allowed. “Magenta Line” is a marathon session where new ground is constantly being broken with powerful, crushing physicality. Although the instrumentation is unorthodox for an improvisational duo, the results are incredibly dynamic and exploratory when left in the hands of masterful musicians. Cassette comes packaged with digital download coupon. Material repeats on both sides.