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Seven Steps of Nervousness

NCC

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Album Review

Seven Steps of Nervousness, NCC's debut on the electro scene, is a strong dose of something different at a time when electro acts could have seemed self-referential. NCC has pioneered a sonic texture of a clean, sharp electro that works all ends of the acoustic range and uses equally cutting complex percussions. The mix does not easily compare to what has gone before. Ambient detail is almost a permanent feature of this sonic texture. This ranges from tiny background samples to faint melodies that are actually interrupted counterpoints of the main tune, to minute, synthesized pop-and-scratch-like noise. All of this occurs in ways that escape being labelled as contrived or distracting. Already masters of creating and releasing tension, tracks on Seven Steps of Nervousness go their own way, abandoning verse/chorus structures and instead using these as some of several tools of composition (in this way, they could be likened to Mentallo and the Fixer). Tracks such as "Syntax" and "RU486" are not constantly repeated electro riffs; instead, they build up slowly through a variety of false starts and ends, before climaxing into some heavy dance beats over synth lines that refuse to stop evolving throughout the track. Throw into this sounds that fall apart or cut out unexpectedly and NCC's remarkable attention to detail in programming becomes obvious. The techno influence in their electro is plain to see — but is far from derivative. NCC jumps fluently between hard electro action (such as the title track, "Seven Steps of Nervousness") and more laid-back tracks ("Abstract Relations"). Neither lack detail, and there is defintely enough happening on this release to warrant much repeat listening. Vocals, when they do appear, are not heavily distorted (as is usual for harder EBM acts) or particularly smooth (as some synth pop artists use), but sit well in the music, rarely taking on a driving role. As with all experiments in a new direction, some aspects are bound to have less success, and there are a few tracks that won't stand up well alongside the release's peak moments. This simply means that the peaks are very high, however, and anyone looking for a genuinely different take on electro should not look past this release.

Customer Reviews

Freaking Fabulous

This album is amazing, sounds darker than other electronica, but is much more intelligent. The beat changes every couple of seconds so that the listener experiences a completely new kind of music. These guys are pioneers!

highly, HIGHLY underrated.

I first heard this group back in 2002, and even back then I was shocked to learn that it was made two years before-hand. Now here it it, almost 2009, and this is still one of the most futuristic, forward-thinking EBM/Electro albums I've ever heard. Too bad they were distributed by Gashed! Records though. Maybe if Metropolis records would have picked them up, they might've had a fighting chance. (You know, way back when Metropolis was still signing good bands.) Highly recommended.

Astounding!

The album review pretty much nails it -- this was something completely unexpected in the increasingly cookie-cutter world of the early 2000's EBM scene. These guys completely blew my expectations away (especially live!). Imagine my surprise that they still do.

Seven Steps of Nervousness, NCC
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Customer Ratings

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