Nice Nice: "Yesss!"

Featuring five originals and three remixes, Portland's Nice Nice (Jason Buehler and Mark Shirazi) weighs in with a generous 36-minute EP. Apparently past releases (2003's Chrome and last year's 3-inch CD Awesome) were single-take, live affairs sans overdubs, making the new outing the group's maiden foray into studio experimentation. If that's true, Buehler and Shirazi prove themselves deft practitioners, with each of the five originals showing an inspired command of the tools at hand. Though the group is sometimes described as a 'guitar and drum duo,' those instruments hardly dominate. Instead, Nice Nice constructs a blurry wall of machine-like soul-funk using drums, guitars, bass, and synths that bleep, blaze, writhe, grind, and wail. Vocals occasionally appear (as chants mostly) but are only faintly audible, buried as they are within the sonic vortex. The group's hallucinatory sound can be hard to pin down but sometimes resembles a disturbed conflation of Black Dice and kid606 and, lo and behold, Nice Nice has shared stages with both.

The opener, “I'm a Human Person,” is a throat-clearing, bruising slice of mechano-splatter. “Uh-Oh” oozes synth-boosted soul-funk while the spaced-out dancehall of “Control Your Area” spotlights skull-snapping bass lines and a blurry vocal line that recalls MARRS' “Pump Up The Volume.” Psychedelic guitar noise washes over the title track before the percussion-heavy, jungle-funk sound of “You're a Human Person” takes over with its elephantine guitar and synth groans. The remixes are uniformly great. Caural gives “Uh-Oh” a distinctively melancholy spin by adding strings, handclaps, and hip-hop beats, Stars as Eyes recasts ““Yesss!”” as a bumping, Latino workout, and DJ/rupture draws out the dark R'n'B streak in his 'Coma Teen Chart Damage' remix of “Uh-Oh.”

June 2005