Nudge: Cached

While Nudge's last release, Elaborate Devices for Filtering Crisis (Tigerbeat 6) identifies nine contributing musicians, Cached finds the Portland-based group reduced to a core trio of Honey Owens (Jackie-O Motherfucker), Brian Foote (Fontanelle), and Paul Dickow (aka Strategy and Fontanelle member). The band's sound hasn't shifted radically, though, as the new release shows them once again adventurously exploring all manner of styles—folk, drones, funk, post-rock, dancehall, and, preeminently, dub—throughout the album's nine pieces.

While dub is the album's anchor, Nudge stretches it elastically into multiple configurations. It's broached more familiarly on “Parade,” where Owens' soft voice floats amidst bass stabs, scarred wah-wahs, and melodica interjections, abstractly in “Dee Deet” with its druggy commingling of sax bleatings and guitar scrapings, and ambiently on the hallucinatory closer “No Come Back.” Buoyant by comparison, the dubby rhythms and echoing smears of “Blon” recall Burnt Friedman & The Nu Dub Players, while “Contact” traffics in the kind of jazz-tinged dub-funk associated with Friedman's Nonplace label and bands like Braun and Shank.

In addition, there are blurry dronescapes (“Standing on Hot Sidewalk”), jerky backwoods dancehall (“Remove Ya”), and steaming, jackhammer rave-ups (“My New Youth”). Loveliest of all is “Classic Mode” which opens the album on a languid pulse of drum brushes, silken guitar filigrees, and the haunting call of Owens' echo-laden voice.

A loose feel reigns throughout, hinting that some material is rooted in improvisation, though presumably electronic processing was involved in post-production too; regardless, the music doesn't sacrifice spontaneity in the process, and natural and electronic elements are seamlessly interwoven. Like its last album, Cached captures a band in perpetual motion, adventurously pursuing diverse paths in every song. While that might suggest a dilettantish quality, the album's dub dimension ensures that a consistent Nudge persona seeps into the material, no matter how stylistically diffused it becomes. Sparse bass lines and melodica flavourings might be the obvious indicators of that dub core, but it's the relaxed and open-ended mentality associated with it that infuses the album's spirit.

May 2005