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Durham, NC's art-punk project the Nein formed after the breakup of White Octave, which also featured former Cursive member Stephen Pederson. Vocalist/guitarist/programmer Finn Cohen and drummer/keyboardist Robert Biggers teamed up with bassist/graphic designer Casey Burns and expanded the angular post-post-punk of their previous band with more electronic and melodic elements. The trio recorded its self-titled, self-released debut EP in spring 2003; one of the EP's tracks, "War Is on the Stereo," was featured on Pox World Empire's Compulation, Vol. 1 collection. Late that year, they returned to the studio and recorded another self-released EP, Twelve Thirteen Fourteen, which the band issued in early 2004.
Meanwhile, the Nein were also making a name for themselves as a formidable live act, not only as a headliner, but also as support for bands such as the Fall. At their shows, they added Dale Flattum, formerly of Steelpole Bathtub and Milk Cult, as an auxiliary member; Flattum's layers of loops and samples added another element to their already dynamic live sound. Cohen, Burns, and Biggers were so pleased with Flattum's contributions that he became a full-time member of the Nein. Though he didn't appear on the group's self-titled debut EP for Sonic Unyon — which collected the highlights of their self released EPs and also made them the first American band signed to the Canadian imprint — his contributions were an integral part of the Nein's first album, which was released in early 2005. The following year, the band released another EP, Transitionalisms, which was the last work the Nein recorded with Burns before he moved to Portland, OR. The band's second full-length, Luxury, appeared in early 2007.