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Nervasystem - 4 (Voodoo Voltage)


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Nervasystem – 4

 

Nervasystem4-cover.jpg

 

 

Track list:

1. Kink Mombaas

2. Form And Shape

3. Metadata Tarsil

4. Camelonic

5. The Knowle Edge (with Colin Bennun)

6. Interzone

7. Beyond The Brain (NatCon Remix)

8. Axis Alchemica

 

Buy here:

http://revoltdigital.co.uk/releases/nervasystem4/

 

 

Mark Dressler’s Nervasystem project has been there on the Psychedelic Goa Trance scene since I remember (damn, has it almost been 20 years already?!?!) with appearances on seminal V/As released by the likes of Phantasm, Psychic Deli, Matsuri Productions; perfectly blending in with other artists there – pretty hard, raw and deeply acidic night-time music, with a lot of emphasis on sonic experimentation. Tracks like “Liquid Lifeform”, “Initiation” or “Whirling Dervish” perfectly captured the sound of British underground psychedelic trance scene of the time. Yet, despite all this Nervasystem never got around to releasing a full up-tempo album, which I guess is the reason he’s rarely mentioned alongside other greats of the time like Hallucinogen, Doof, Cosmosis, Koxbox/Psychopod, GNoTR, etc. which is a damn shame. Luckily, the tides have changed in 2013 with a string of great retrospective releases, summarising Nervasystem’s output in pre-2000 era: a self-released "Early Daze" and "Time Travel" on Anjuna Rec. Both left me craving for more of his signature raw, spiralling, hard-hitting tunes.

 

Little did I knew, Mark’s been cooking new music in the meantime and in early 2015 two new albums were released courtesy of Voodoo Voltage label – “3” which is an experimental, down-tempo, FSoL-like sonic collage; and “4” which is a “trance” one. On this occasion I wanted to write about the latter.

 

I was very surprised when I first played the album, because it was nothing like the “old” Nervasystem – it was slower, more funky, much more organic as opposed to the very cybernetic, raw sound of e.g. “Time Travel”. It is very rich in detail, never gets stale, always develops and progresses into new directions adding layers upon layers of crazy sounds & effects. In some ways, it’s a bit like bunch of loops thrown together on the top of 4/4 beats, but none of those elements is ever simple, trivial or cliché. Despite the obvious sequenced nature of the music, it never feels like it’s mechanically quantized, measured & clinically sculpted to fit the 4/4 regime, which – for me – is a bane of a lot of electronic trance music. Instead, this album is like a beautiful, evolving organism – a tree perhaps? – with sounds & layers smoothly and naturally interweaving, complementing one another to form unique sound patterns. It rarely goes where you’d expect it to go, doesn’t care one bit about the “rules” of psy-trance and doesn’t shy from juxtaposing seemingly unfitting elements together. Basically all tracks are like that – slowly building up to a crescendo, that you wouldn’t normally call a ‘climax’ because it’s so non-standard for goa/psy-trance. There are acid lines, but they’re unlike you ever heard – very dirty, primal and analogue. There are 4/4 drums, but they’re also more akin to some dirty industrial / glitch styles, rarely resorting to typical kick/hat/snare combos. There are melodies, but you’d hurt your tongue trying to hum them – they’re (positively!) lazy, slow-paced and growling. If I was forced to name some musical (or “sonical” – that’s much more fitting) references, I’d probably point to old Koxbox / Psychopod, Process &, OOOD and from more recent releases: Nebula Meltdown, Ocelot, Hedonix. It is this kind on non-goa psychedelic trance, where under right circumstances you can get totally lost in all the nuances, the unearthly atmosphere. It isn’t very dark (as in – nocturnal) music, but it’s definitely moody & deep and requires healthy dose of attention and patience to get the most of it, because – maybe with the exception of “Knowle Edge” written with Colin OOOD – there’s no apparent & clear melodic hooks you could cling onto to carry you forward. But if you commit yourself, you’ll find plenty of those drifting just beneath the surface. This is properly “psychedelic” music.

 

In terms of mastering, the album is simply flawless – the sound is very transparent, balanced with adequate sense of placement in the stereo spectrum, resulting in perfect separation between the layers. The lows are defined and punchy, the highs are very clear and the loudness is just right. Frankly, no surprise there as it was mastered by Colin OOOD, which automatically increases the likelihood of me buying any one record by 50% J

 

All in all, I found the album incredibly refreshing as it stands out amongst the crowd of other neo-goa, dark-psy and progressive trance releases as something really refreshing and unique, difficult to qualify and close in a neatly labelled box. It is high-quality, deep, thought-provocative and meditative music. At the same time, I have no illusions – it will be greatly overlooked by majority of folks, for one because it isn’t available in Psyshop/Beatspace/etc.; secondly, because it is a demanding music – no hands in the ear moments, no catchy samples, no rave buildups, no Bom Shiva badge of goa-authenticity, no Phrygian-scale melodies. However, if you liked his take on Prana’s “Boundless” in recent Suntrip remix release, please check this as well – it’s more of the same, but even more mind-bending and trippy as he’s not “constrained” by having to remix a known tune.

 

Lastly, just to pre-empt that discussion – yes, the album comes printed on a factory-grade CDr disc and in cheaply made digipack, but I don’t care as long as my money support an artist in pursuing his own, very unique vision. And this is definitely the case here.

 

5/5

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Nice review from Antic! - I think this perfectly sums it all up.

 

As stated above the tracks are all very organic and dont't follow the typical structures, at least not very obviously. A lot of fresh new sound creations and great attention to detail have made me listen a lot to this album. - All in all it provides a very deep psychedelic journey to the listener!

 

So far this in one of my favourite albums in 2015, very happy to hear there are still artists that try out new paths and provide progression to the scene- However, this is definitely not typical goa trance, so better just summarize it more broadly under "psychedlic music".

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Guest antic

Nice review from Antic! - I think this perfectly sums it all up.

 

Thank you, that's very kind and encouraging :)

I was worried seeing 150 views, but no feedback.

Hope this yields at least few more sales for Mark as well!

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Guest antic

Listening to "Early Daze" for the first time, very much enjoying it. How does this one compare?

 

It is different - "Early Daze" (and "Time Travel") is a collection of old-school (mid 90's) psychedelic trance, usually pretty hard, fast, acidy & raw; while "4" is much more flowing, organic, experimental and atmospheric, not so much dance-floor oriented. The new one is much more complex, nuanced and gentle, as opposed to in-your-face old tunes. To be frank, I'd be hard pressed to find similarities between them - other than none of them is typical 'goa' - but both are awesome in their own right :)

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