Dusted Reviews

No-Neck Blues Band and Embryo - EmbryoNNCK

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: No-Neck Blues Band and Embryo

Album: EmbryoNNCK

Label: Staubgold

Review date: May. 14, 2006

One of the pictures decorating the packaging of EmbryoNNCK, a collaboration between No-Neck Blues Band and age-old Krautrock band Embryo, is a classic monochromatic studio shot. But the players have left the building, leaving dozens of instruments scattered about on Persian carpets covering the studio floor. The human-less state of the room brings to mind NNCK’s vaunted anonymity (though the players’ names are in fact listed in these liner notes), but the image contradicts the humanity of the music it graces. For EmbryoNNCK is a sweet, innocent recording, and its improvisations pulsate with the warmth of breathing bodies.

In spirit, EmbryoNNCK resembles Gamelan Son of Lion’s original recordings. While those pieces were composed and these are not, GSOL’s '70s-era, large-group, communal sessions sitting cross-legged on the floor are of a piece with the instrumentation and meditativeness heard here. Marimba, hammered-dulcimer, flute and vocal moaning weave around a single theme on EmbryoNNCK; as may be expected of NNCK, this is really a single chord.

EmbyroNNCK wants to be listened to in a group: it demands of its listening the experience of its making. The sound is big but gentle - at times there seem to be dozens of people playing at once, yet the tones are distinct and lusciously clear - and more than conjuring images of flower children and the haze of drugs, it asks that one gather together a dozen friends and act those images out. The aura is utopian rather than retro, but the utopian and the historical have often been conflated and will continue to be so long as we connect Indian scales with George Harrison.

There is no dramatic tension nor dissonance in EmbryoNNCK’s meanderings. Rather, the theme becomes a lifestyle, pressed into service by one instrument and then handed back to the vibes, where it is stored for future use. Clacking wood block and the demon voices of Asian theater focus the group on “Das erste Mal,” while “Frank Cologne” is the domain of tortured breathing.

Perhaps the unpeopled instruments in the studio are an invitation, a suit to be occupied by listeners as they surrender themselves and become participants in the event that EmbryoNNCK brings to life. The skin offered to us is universal, a personal utopia in a small plastic box.

By Josie Clowney

Read More

View all articles by Josie Clowney

Find out more about Staubgold

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.