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Nervasystem "Underground Culture"


DoktorG

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Nervasystem Underground Culture

 

Nervasystem – Underground Culture 7:54

Nervasystem – Perpendicular 7:50

Nervasystem With Virtuart & P2C – 3 Amigos 6:11

Nervasystem – Undercurrents 5:00

Nervasystem – Further 6:59

Nervasystem – ZipVelcro (BackTwoFront&InsideOut) 7:15

Nervasystem – Providence Of Fauna 6:20

Nervasystem With Process (2) – Discombobulator 7:29

 

Voodoo Voltage – VV777

2 x Vinyl, LP, Album, Limited Edition, Numbered

UK

Released: Jun 17, 2023

 

This is a difficult review to write. Why? Because I'm at a loss as to how to assess this album or what to say about it. Individual track commentary is almost redundant because the tracks are very similar to each other and none really stands out in any significant way. Nor is the aesthetic or style easily identifiable. Neither is it clearly good, nor obviously bad. I don't know how I feel about it either; I oscillate between thinking "faceless techno bollocks" and wanting to dance to some tracks. I'm not even sure whether this means that I should reassess my assessment criteria or undertake some other meta-cognitive revision. You see my quandary. 

What I can say is that the recording, mastering, and pressing is of good quality, though nothing exceptional. My copy had slightly dished vinyl and some surface noise towards the end of side 3 in "Zip Velcro", but otherwise was quiet and sounded well. The sleeve art is beautiful and is nicely printed on a very glossy gatefold sleeve. Generally this is a good quality production. 

I can also give a bit of background. Nervasystem is Mark Dressler from Brighton in England, a Goa veteran who produced some classic Goa tracks from the mid-90s onwards. I have the tracks that were pressed to vinyl and they are all really good, with the awesome track "Stardust" my personal favourite. Nervasystem also collaborated with Alexis Cousins as Nervasystem & Aether and produced 3 eps and an album on the obscure Elektrik Orgasm imprint and those are all also really good (though the mastering was somewhat on the bright side). There are a couple of defining features to these early 12" releases that are worth noting: from the start the beats were quite technoid and linear, though there could be breaky percussion, and indeed metallic percussion with great cymbal and hi-hat work was always prominent, with heavy 303 use. There was also a touch of industrial darkness in these releases, which were definitely not wave yer mitts in the air uplifting or positive. There was something grinding and hard about these tunes, tunes I grew to love. This tuff aspect has stayed constant throughout Nervasystem's by now storied career. Nervasystem's first album was only released on cd in 2002, 13 Amp Fusion, and is excellent. I don't know all the intervening albums so well, but 2013's Time Travel and 2016's Brainradio were also good. By this point Nervasystem had moved on from his earlier more Goa sound, creating even more technoish and linear tracks without much 303 use or percussive dynamism. Instead, they feature nice rhythm and subtle itchy twitchy noises and textures that are very or vaguely psychedelic. 

This latter is absolutely true of this latest album Underground Culture. This album is somewhere between trance and techno, with a linear rhythm section avoiding climaxes or build-ups and come-downs, zero galloping horse or machine gun one note bass, little by way of obvious melody, hardly any samples. This is anonymous music with little for the listener to latch onto, and that is its big strength and weakness. Anonymity. Due to this anonymous linearity the tracks do come off as sketchy, incomplete, not fully developed. On the other hand, the album is danceable and most enjoyable, in an anonymous kind of way. I can try to sum up how I feel by saying that every track here seemed like it could carry on and develop further and would have been a great track if it had done so. In a word: unfinished. 

As you can no doubt tell, this has been a difficult review to write. I like this album, but it is not one I can call "good" in a conventional sense. It seems clear to me that Nervasystem can improve by taking more chances, being more experimental, embracing melody, and ensuring that tracks are fully developed. Maybe the next album will be a classic? ~*~ 

 

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I fucking love Drezz and think he's one of the finest producers of psychedelic music in the scene today.

This might not be Mama Matrix Most Mysterious or 13 Amp Fusion, but this is great and a solid journey.

Much much love ❤️

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  • 2 weeks later...

I feel similar to the Doktor in that I don't find anything bad about this release and actually quite like it. But there is nothing in the tracks for me to latch onto, no big moment to wait for and no real way for me to prefer one track over the next. 

On the point of VR, this is great music to have on while playing a racing game or going for a drive at night. 

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On 12/6/2023 at 11:41 PM, Parasphere said:

Yeah racing games and Psytrance is good combo! I miss that, gotta find me a good racing game, I'm eyeing the latest Forza Motor Sport, and Gran Turismo. :D I have no car tho, that's also a good environment to test out music for sure! It must be a highlight for any artist to test out their new music in a good car sound system I imagine.

Used to love me some Rocket League and Goa/prog psy. In the end I got worse and worse as I cared less about the game and more about the music. 

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