The Nest: Music For Drivers
Denovali Records

On its debut CD, The Nest serves up a cryptic, neo-noir take on electronic-jazz that's not totally unlike the slo-core style associated with Bohren & Der Club Of Gore, with whom saxophonist Christoph Clöser also plays. His saxophone is typically the glue holding Music For Drivers together, given that the sounds accompanying him are ever-changing and mercurial by design. The juxtapositions between his playing and the background change throughout, with the sax at times heard against a field recordings or synthesizer backdrop and at other times a construction of some abstract kind. The Nest's rounded out by synthesizer player Tycho Schottelius (Desmond Denker) and Tannhäuser Sterben & Das Tod members Gerald Mandl (bass, effects, and moodswinger) and Thomas Mahmoud (field beats, effects, and vocals). Though it unfolds as an uninterrupted hour-long entity, the recording is indexed as four sections: “First Data,” “Second Try,” “Third Gear,” and “Four You.” The members recorded the material live at the Studio Neu-Koln in October 2011, after which editing, overdubbing, and mixing took place in Berlin a month later.

Clöser's smoky sax first appears during “First Data” amidst mangled field recordings of people milling about within a transport terminal, his playing already holding together the fractured fragments of bass tones and skittering noise effects. In “Second Try,” his multi-tracked sax flutters sinuously across a foreboding synthesizer backdrop before a barrage of noise-related materials takes over. Mangled electronic effects—squeals and sharp-edged scrapes—bring a brutalizing quality to the third part, after which the sax, its patterns multiplied into loops, emerges at first calmly before it too turns violent. Blistered noise scabs, clipped laughter, and pain-inducing industrial passages dominate the album's challenging “Four You,” though here again Clöser's playing provides an occasional pleasing antidote. In its favour, the group brings an open-ended sensibility to the recording process. There's some sense of structure and organization in place but an even greater focus on freedom and fluidity, with the four musicians willing to let the peculiar material unfold in accordance with its own idiosyncratic logic. It's not always easy listening, but it's also never less than interesting.

September 2012