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Nudge - Cached

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Artist: Nudge

Album: Cached

Label: Kranky

Review date: May. 23, 2005

Portland, Oregon electronic trio Nudge are at the front line of experimental digital music. As the underground becomes increasingly enraptured with acoustic tones, electronic aficionados have been patiently waiting for the genre’s next evolutionary leap. Cached, the band’s latest, just might be the future of ones and zeroes.

Comprising members of Jackie O Motherfucker, Fontanelle and Strategy, Nudge’s avant-garde pedigree is considerable. Their last record, Elaborate Devices for Filtering Crisis, caused a minor sensation within the electronic community, raising the bar for other composers who would incorporate organic sounds with their hard drives. Filled with ephemeral gurgles and aluminum tones, Cached is one of the more successful releases of its kind, and a very tough act to follow.

The album catches Nudge indulging in their deepest dub fantasies. Conceptually similar to Out Hud’s most recent efforts, the album ensconces dance-floor rhythms in slime-and-sandpaper textures. Bit reduction, light glitch and randomized time and pitch stretching give the music a delightfully unstable feel. Grooves are introduced only to be subsequently incinerated with the digital equivalent of a welder’s torch, leaving fried husks of what once might have been club music.

“Contact” bubbles with glossy guitars, resampled and stuffed into compact sacs of polyphony. Here the spare dub architecture is met with fractured slices of a horn figure. As the track stutters forward, a colorful sequence of percussive blips is revealed, creating a tenuous compositional through-line. “Parade” follows a similar pattern; grizzled skronks and skanked-out snares hold steady against the steamy undercurrents that caress the tune’s outer edges.

The bass-driven “Remove Ya” plays like an underfed version of Eno and Byrne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, while “Dee Deet” is not dissimilar to the opening stretches of Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way. Tendrils of sound and soupy rhythms swirl together in a computer-assisted approximation of the trumpeter’s most far-out work.

Unlike some of their contemporaries, Nudge’s surgical interlacing of organic and electronic elements is hardly a sterile affair. Pulsating with layers of warm sound, Cached makes a strong case for the re-evaluation of the term “electronic music.” Categories be damned, this is a great record.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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