Thursday, June 12, 2014


Any band that has an artist manifesto is something to pay attention to in my book. Maybe you're familiar with Han Bennink and maybe you're not (and if these cats didn't smuggle their band name from his gem, I'm a bigger idiot than I think I am), but his musical compositions always tickle me. There's an odd comfort to his solipsism.

Hawaii's Nerve Beats challenge self-imposed limitations, massaging out some percussion based odysseys that, for my money, offer a musical equivalent to a Borges short or a Benjamin essay: structure is acknowledged only to upend it in the margins and hidden spaces.

Too much?

Perhaps, but the Mike Watt styling reworked with a beatnik (in a good way) experimentation serves up some deliciousness. I like the word succulent. I don't use it often enough, but the connotations are brilliant. Nerve Beats are ripe with temptation -- an absolute reservoir of tonality. Moist and juicy, their recordings experiment with every configuration one can compile given the horizons they erect. The game, however, isn't fixed as, with any horizon, it shifts as you move within it. Decidedly minimalist in their approach, Nerve Beats tease out enough possibility that proves the rule that the contradictions exist within the structure. Deconstruction is a heavy term, riddled with enough baggage to keep you perpetually cycling through a Kafka-esque dreamscape. The joy, however, has always been when the system outruns its limits, when theory can't keep up with practice. Behold, a rupture! The static becomes dynamic; the minimal becomes complex; the familiar becomes strange.

Or something.

It's an impressive undertaking, and, to my mind, Nerve Beats not only accomplish what they set out to do but also rework the notion of progression by swaddling it in repetition. Utilizing jazz concepts is a tricky dance, but these cats find a way to center it while not appearing to control its development. Sure, one can argue, they allow the rules of the game to actuate the result, but the details of the journey are what piece together the narrative. It's succinct, disjointed symmetry that uses all the tools of concision against itself. 

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