I’m a big Nerve fan. Jojo Mayer is one of the premiere drummers in the world, and in my mind the best in the business when it comes to replicating the sliced up breaks of drum n’ bass on an acoustic drum kit. Their debut album Prohibited Beats was a long time coming after their breakout performance at the 2005 Modern Drummer Festival. Actually, I learned about Jojo Mayer back in a 2000 Modern Drummer article on live drum n’ bass drumming. The article galvanized my burgeoning love of electronic music, especially the artists who were doing it live. I watched the only media I could find on the band (a short film on Nerve by Julie Covello) on loop to try and dissect how the band was pulling it off. I tried similar experiments in college to varying degrees of success…
After the much delayed Prohibited Beats hit, the band abandoned traditional cd distribution and focused on releasing short EPs through Bandcamp. The first two, aptly titled EP1 and EP2, are fantastic. Heavy, grimy dubstep basslines and some bonkers drumming. Seriously, check them out.
EP3 is not as mind blowing as the first two, but has some really fantastic elements. Overall, it’s a lot more restrained than the first EPs, which I think works against the band’s style. I haven’t been blown away with the synth sound design on the previous records, but Mindwash puts that to rest. Takuya Nakamura has really stepped up his game and given his patches their own life and personality. Derbyshire is my favorite track here. It stands as a fun tribute to the work of Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. In other news, Ms. Derbyshire is the one who brought the Dr. Who theme song to life. The band alludes to the lab’s tape loop work, including spasticly drum pattern accelerations and scrambles. The pallet of sound also harks to some of Derbyshire’s work. Overall, extremely creative musicianship. Grey Market, which I presume is a play on Nicky Blackmarket’s Black Market Records (a famous drum n’ bass record shop), features the fantastic dirty basslines of John Davis and a great funky groove. Missing are the memorable hooks that we had on EP1 and EP2. The song builds to a huge, prog-rock-esq ending with swirling digital pads and unison hits.
Nerve is purportedly working on a full length record. If it learns from all three of these EP experiments, we’ll have something fantastic on our hands.