Networks: Dynamic Nature

Networks' sophomore collection certainly lives up to its title: Dynamic Nature is the sound of a Japanese trio—Shingo on keyboards, Saisho on guitar, and Hamada on drums—playing live on four ten-minute tracks as well as a brief coda. Hailing from Osaka, Networks released its debut album White Sky in 2010 and immediately attracted attention for the high energy of its instrumental attack; while geographic distance separates them, one could regard Networks' approach as analogous in spirit to the ones adopted by outfits such as Elektroguzzi and Cobblestone Jazz. As far as the five-year gap between White Sky and Dynamic Nature is concerned, Networks spent the time performing at numerous festivals and events, honing their live presentation along the way.

“Yas-rahGi” inaugurates the forty-five-minute album with a hammering pulse that suggests Reich-styled minimalism forms some part of the group's DNA, an impression further bolstered when piano and guitar patterns flicker rapidly in a manner equally reminiscent of the style. The tone of Networks' music is generally uplifting, with the trio collectively undertaking multiple ascents as a given piece develops. The group's playing is exuberant and tight, and the heat generated by the three on these rambunctious epics is typically huge.

The instrumentation in Networks and Elektroguzzi might be slightly different (the former includes keyboards, the latter bass), but when Networks powers “Phoenergy” with a light-speed techno pulse, it's hard not to hear an even stronger connection between them. It's also worth noting that, while one might identify a classical minimalism influence in the group's compositional writing, there's nothing minimal about the trio's robust delivery, which is as maximal as it could possibly be for a three-member outfit.

With Hamada showering them with fusillades of cymbals and drums, Shingo and Saisho pack an incredible number of syncopated patterns into the space available. Adding to the music's density is the fact that Shingo doesn't play one keyboard only but often contributes multiple layers of piano and synthesizers to the band's sound. Anyone thinking Dynamic Nature will induce a state of ambient calm is thoroughly misguided; it would be hard to imagine anyone nodding off when the album's uproarious tracks are flooding the room.

June 2015