A striking vision born of the studied assimilation of bass culture constituents.
Mike Diver 2012-02-29
It has surely come to pass before now that a naïve promoter has pressed 'send' on pre-show publicity advertising this London-based trio as 'Nerdy' – but, in a way, such a mistake seems apposite given the music in question. Theirs is a hybrid of dingy club and sparkling dancefloor sounds, mutant dubstep and groaning guitars, so fastidiously arranged that its geekier tendencies become endearing elements. This isn’t music that’s been left to brew over the course of several years, a success story of natural selection; it’s lab-tailored to suit a certain breed of bass-junky who takes their drops with a side of ethereality. And the whole thing’s really rather magnificent.
In a Dim Light is the second long-play set from Matt Parker, Chris Amblin and Ayu Okakita – whose hometowns of London, Bristol and Osaka surely play a part in informing the boundlessness of this inspired blend – following their well-received Condors debut of 2010. In hindsight, that set wasn’t as revelatory as some commentators suggested, a debt to the broadest edge of trip hop echoing through to the present; but In a Dim Light offers something different, appearing sharper and clearer of vision.
This is the sound Nedry surely sought at their outset: a pure distillation of influences which doesn’t wholly resemble anything else on the market. At its fringes, faint shadows of preceding fare can be traced with an index finger, only for the edges to fade and several shades become one. A case in point is Float: the intimate lyric from Okakita is reminiscent of Vespertine’s squirmy content, and its ominous build at 3:45 stirs memories of Mezzanine opener Angel. But these are whispers on a rare wind, lost amidst the mix as quickly as they’ve manifested.
Okakita’s vocals are worthy of comparison with Blonde Redhead’s Kazo Makino – the Japanese singers share a second-language phrasing which lends uncommon vulnerability to their words. This is most evident on single Violaceae, which opens with a tender a cappella before steadily growing in mass and menace; once a Kraut-like second-half motif has speared its bubbling bass, it’s established itself as a first-play highlight which still prickles the skin several listens later.
Okakita is in a rather more frenzied mode during the tumultuous TMA and Post Six, the latter a track which skirts around the broken-beat raucousness of 65daysofstatic before colliding with itself in an infinity mirror; and come the junglist climax of closer Home, Nedry have passed the listener through emotions that move with the weight of tectonic plates, grinding and collapsing, ever restless.
If the whole is a studied exercise in the extrapolation of bass culture via the assimilating of known historical points, then a Poindexter process takes nothing away from the end product: which, ear-drums popped, is as fine a fusion as anyone will realise in 2012.