Fri, 07 May 2004
Euphonic Productions presents:
Gruppe Freie Elektronische
9pm, Fri, May 7
$5 at the door
290 MLK Jr. Drive, Suite 8
See the poster.
See the pictures.
NTX + ELECTRIC is Candice Vincent (saxophone), Brandon Davis (guitar), Erika Thrasher (synth), and Nikki Texas (mic stand.)
"Nikki Texas is on to something interesting, though it may be some time before anyone catches on. Combining the old (flourishes of Cabaret Voltaire, Fad Gadget and Metal Urbain abound) with the new (Chromatics, Les Georges Leningrad and Mazing Vids) NTX + Electric are both concerned with challenging their audience as well as intriguing their eardrums. "Horrendous Habits", "Cutthroat" and "Amateur Video" all creep along, doused in feedback, blipping about to the drum machine and screeching along to the uh, melodies. At once absurd and elegant, NTX possess the verve and individual quality required to turn some heads, let's just hope people are listening."
- Jack Rabid, the Big Takeover
"To be perfectly honest, I am not quite sure what in the hell this is, and it kind of freaks me out a little bit (and not just the paganistic, blood- splattered cover art). There are synths, piled on in dense layers, pulsing, groaning and grinding, a swooping noise used as rhythm, a saxophone (?), drums that sound like they are coming from next door, and what I can only guess is a horrendously distorted guitar being hit with something. It all gets stirred together into loping, lurching groove, and up pops the broken tape-recorder vocals. They call this song "Walk through Fire." Other songs mix it up a bit, but you get an album full of tunes played through thick layers of nasty haze, kind of like how the Swell Maps used to do it, but much more threatening. If you like being unsettled, definitely check this out."
- David Christensen, Fake Jazz
"Take a bunch of echoey, Creation-esque pop songs, run them through a buzz-saw of noise and electronic manipulation, and what do you get? If you guessed scrap metal and junkyard leavings, you haven't heard this latest from Swarm of Angels collaborators Nikki Texas (also formerly of Japanic) and Erika Thrasher. This beautifully packaged split CD marries chaos and structure in an unusually powerful way.
Texas may be talking about relationships in "Barbwire" when he says, "Well, we act as though we're both composed of barbwire / It's only so we know not to tangle," but he could also be talking about the songs here. Almost every track buries its hook under off-putting atonalities, skin-stripping dissonance and blinding waves of feedback. It's the kind of aggressively noise-filled wrapping that cuts your hand as you reach for the melody, yet the hooks are undeniably there. The vocals are obscured under meandering sax, brutal shocks of electric distortion and grinding no-wave beats, yet despite, or perhaps because of their indistinctness, they hold your attention.
"Amateur Video", for instance, stutters through an extended opening of pitch-shifting sax and frantic drum machines, only to be joined by Texas's backgrounded, Joy Division-esque vocals 30 seconds in. Odd, nearly random guitar notes layer over ominous organ, and feverish lyrics about "fucking around", and the piece at first seems to have no structure at all. Yet after a few listens, it coalesces into a dark and driving unit, nightmarishly intense right to the end. Similarly, the slow, dirge-like "Poison the Choir" creeps ahead on funereal organ, its strong melodic line nearly swallowed by feedback. You have to listen, you have to pay attention, but there is a very compelling song there.
Thrasher's cuts are similarly blenderized mixes of noise and more accessible song structure. Her voice is shockingly pop -- think Belinda Carlisle -- yet it is counterbalanced by a dense assemblage of harsh sounds hammered into machine-drilled rhythms. The percussion under "We Are the Wild Beast" thuds and crashes like a robot run amok, guitars drilling down in hypnotic descants, all angles and irregularity, yet it is topped by Thrasher's rich and easily-followed voice, intoning "We are the wild beast."
The production philosophy here puts what's usually background -- beats, feedback, sax -- in the foreground, while moving vocals and melody-carrying guitars to the rear. Because the hooks are strong and the vocals good, we hear them anyway, and what we don't quite hear we piece together in our imagination. The sharper, more dissonant elements that our brains tend to downplay are right in our faces, impossible to ignore. It's an upsetting yet indelible combination -- one that makes tracks like "Emptyhanded" and "Horrendous Habits" stick in your head long after they've finished.
This is great stuff -- medium difficult to absorb, but well worth the trouble."
-- Jennifer Kelly, Splendid
Gruppe Freie Elektronisch:
Jeff Bradley - double bass
Scott Burland - lap steel, keyboards, electronics
Rob Cheatham - saxophones, keyboards
Bob Hulihan - electronics, guitar, etc.
Milt Jones - percussion, etc.
plus special guest:
Ana Balka - violin & guitar