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Doctor Nerve - Armed Observation CD (album) cover


Doctor Nerve



4.30 | 14 ratings

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4 stars Jazz In Opposition

Coming together at Woodstock, this band sound slightly different than what you'd normally expect from this ancient hippie Mecca. CMS or the Creative Music Studio just outside of New York was a hot-bed for up and coming musicians that dared to be different. Starting way back in 1971, CMS was founded by Karl Berger, Ingrid Sertso and Ornette Coleman, which probably should give you a fair assessment as to how music in general was approached. The focus was largely on contemporary extravagant music - and how one would go about creating sounds and moods that mostly resided outside of the public radio sphere.

The different members of Doctor Nerve all met up at this place with head honcho Nick Didkovsky being the main instigator behind the proceedings - writing most of the music as well as handling the oddly cling clangy guitars. On this their sophomore release, the mood and unique 'Nerve' sound was finally attained - creating the sonic foundation for their future releases.

The music itself sounds like a loose fusion version of Henry Cow. The angular guitar motifs waffle around the atmosphere with a tight and somewhat mad rhythm section pulling the music into strange territories, where things are dissonant and fluid all at the same time. The thing is, that those drums sound like an infinitely long array of stop-starts - whilst the bass zooms very peculiarly and smooth underneath them - gluing this steam engine together like a tight bouncy vessel. Again, I am constantly reminded of Henry Cow with this band - and especially the combination of waffling guitar, stop-start drumming and that zooming bass - strongly echoes the mighty Cow - only much more focused on jazz.

If we're completely anal about this album - it'd be slightly wrong placing them in the RIO quarters, because RIO only really consists of those early pioneers that started playing at the original Rock In Opposition festivals back at the tail end of the 70s. THOSE are the real RIO bands, but the fact of the matter is, that there are many acts since who have carried on the flame - seeking to create music that spit in the face of contemporary radio hits and the whole media culture enveloping them. Doctor Nerve sound uncannily like a true RIO band to these ears, and people who find themselves allured by cling clang chords, dissonance and jumpy bizarre time-signatures should feel right at home with this wonderful band.

Over these aforementioned main ingredients though are some of my absolute favourite sprinklings the album has to offer, which incidentally also speak volumes about the fusion mask this band wears. Wind instruments! Trumpet, saxophone and bass-clarinet! All of these jazzy ingredients roam freely on the offering together with tumbling wild marimbas and other exotic and stuttering percussive spicings. Yes they are free to roam and roar like bats out of hell - yet at the same time they sport a somewhat loose childish approach to things - relegating an unsophisticated and at times purposely naive vibe to the feel. Kindergarden whistling perhaps - only here featured on grown up instruments played with vigour and power - supporting the meaty flavour of the rhythm section and guitar. Other times one of these tooting creatures breaks free in mad dashes that, I'll bet, would have dear old Ornette smiling proudly from ear to ear, by the fact that these youngsters were able to 'get it' and push the envelope - toot like the wind and shake things up effervescently and all over the place like he once did, back when all of this madness was in its pyjamas and but a mere exercise in futility and abnormal beauty. Well Ornette my man, we've come a long way since then, and most people may not feel comfortable around stuff like this, but to those of us who feel invigorated, electric and all tingly inside whenever the sounds of the opposition appear - we truly feel blessed and honoured to have music like this in our possession.

Doctor Nerve probably made Ornette proud - at least they continued the road he once walked - and each time I put this extravagant album on, I am reminded of this bond and heritage. This is essentially jazz in opposition with an affinity for the complex and hard hitting. It tears through flesh like a brute leaf blower, yet somehow all of this strange brutality feels oddly enamouring and bewitching. 4.5 stars and a big box of blue sandpaper.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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