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Elaborate Devices for Filtering Crisis

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Album Review

On their Tigerbeat6 debut, Elaborate Devices for Filtering Crisis, Nudge build on the sound of Trick Doubt and flesh out a sound that falls somewhere in between electronic pop and more experimental fare. While the album's pretty, cerebral pieces are more muted than a good portion of the label's edgy output, the playful instinct to push and pull and cut and paste sounds into near-oblivion that defines Tigerbeat6 is still there; it's just expressed more subtly. The overall effect is more evocative than immediate, suggesting all kinds of vivid imagery without spelling it out explicitly. If satellites could sing, they might sound like "Til the Sun Expands," a quietly lovely track that strews lilting, arrythmic melodies over fractured beats. "Love-In Accident" sounds exactly like its title, sporting a funky rhythm occasionally interrupted by spasms of fuzzed-out guitar and hippie flutes. Most of the rest of Elaborate Devices for Filtering Crisis follows the patterns of these two songs, offering either pretty, appealingly misshapen reveries or rhythmic abrasiveness. Both approaches work well, but occasionally the results feel a little dry and coldly experimental, and the cut-and-pasted parts don't always add up to a satisfying whole. The hazy murmurs, static, squiggles, and squelches of "Blue Screen" are hypnotic but tend to meander, a problem that also slightly mars "Mouthed," a dreamy track that suggests a more unstructured take on the sound Stereolab pursued on their later albums. More often than not, though, Nudge's music yields some enjoyable paradoxes: "Poor Impulse Control," one of the most chopped-up songs, is both jerky and funky, while the slinky "Search Party" is driven by a bassline that's equally dark and whimsical. And at times, Elaborate Devices for Filtering Crisis offers glimpses into what Nudge might deliver more consistently in the future: the abstractly seductive "3hit" is one of the album's smaller but more effective instrumentals, while "Multiply by What Remains" casts vocalist Honey Owens as a brooding femme fatale singing in an underground spy hideout. Perhaps fortunately, Nudge save the best for last: despite its punny title, "Are Our Hours" is the most expressive thing on Elaborate Devices — it's something of a wonder that the group can make a song with warm, rounded bass, brass, and guitars a rhythm that seems to be made of pounding and scraping and dripping water sound so emotive. While Elaborate Devices for Filtering Crisis doesn't always rise above its origins as cerebral exercises in sound, the tracks that hint at some soul behind their music suggest even better things from this group.

Elaborate Devices for Filtering Crisis, Nudge
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