Is this dub? Not in a traditional dub reggae "I-and-I-Rastafari" sense — only the most miniscule hints of Lee "Scratch" Perry or Sly & Robbie are here — but by definition this is dub in that it is organic instruments electronically reconstructed. Nudge is known primarily as a pedigreed Portland electro-acoustic concept outfit that blurs the distinctions between organic and electronic, but since so many of the songs on this album have a foundation in subtly funky, ever so slightly reggae riddims, then the most apt term for the material found on Cached, Nudge's third album, is indeed dub (although this revelation may surprise the bandmembers themselves). "Classic Mode" opens the album with a decidedly trip-hop flavor, with a sweet female vocal line — the only one of a traditional sort on the album — courtesy of one Honey Owens, also of Jackie-O M**********r, that floats in the ether over percolating breakbeats. The song melds seemlessly into a woozy abstract drone piece evocatively titled "Standing on Hot Sidewalk." Next up, "Contact" is pure dub filtered through laptop glitch, while "Blon" sounds like a collage of soundboard-mangled dubplates with the band's instrumentalists free-jamming along. "My New Youth" is a noisy, clattering homage to no wave that disintegrates halfway through into a completely different song, calling to mind the absurd and arty sonic destruction of Fly Pan Am. "Remove Ya" starts with a Casio-like reinterpretation of the majestically funky organ riff from Led Zeppelin's "Trampled Under Foot," only to devolve into a bass and melodica workout of the variety that forms the very foundation of dub. "Dee Deet" is the most experimental of the pieces, meandering along through tweaked found sounds, spastic saxophone, skittery guitar bleats, and slovenly bass bloops, but "Parade," with its scratchy wah guitar and sparse deep bass, is pure dub, and in the chopped-up mumbled vocals very reminiscent of what A.R. Kane did with 4AD-style ambient dub in the '80s. When taken as a whole, Cached comes off like an art school exercise in music theory reconstructivism, yet despite its intellectual pretensions, it's utterly captivating and at times even booty-shaking.
IDM, post-rock, folktronica, whatever... tired of this ridiculous pop music taxonomy? The good news is that Nudge doesn't sound like any of them. If you're tired of bands that sound "post-rock," Warp wannabes that sound "IDM," and Animal Collective copy bands, this is the album for you! This album can't be put into a nice little compartment. It's unique.