Sometimes, just sometimes, something comes along that stops you in your tracks. You put the thing on not knowing what to expect and BAM! it fucking slays you from the outset. That’s what happened when I first heard this double album from Nudity, a band that was totally new to me. Wait though, to my surprise this was not an album that had been deliberately recorded as such. Nor was it by a band who were still going, at least not in the same configuration, and certainly no longer playing the same kind of music. This was a collection of tracks both previously released and not, that represents the meagre recorded output of the band in its original guise of Dave Harvey (guitar, vocals & sitar), Chris Sutton, (guitar and vocals), Josh Haynes (Feral Ohms, enough said!, bass) and Eryn Ross (drums); and later incarnation with Jon Quitty Quittner on bass.
It’s the sort of collection that I know Dave over at Cardinal Fuzz has been wanting to put out for a while, and let’s thank all that is holy that he’s pulled it off. To say that this double album is an absolute monster (you also get a couple of extra live tracks with the download) would an underestimation of titanic proportions.
Nudity were formed in Olympia, Washington State back in 2004 and built up a fierce reputation as a live band, yet recorded relatively little in the nearly six years that this retrospective covers. On one level it isn’t a massive legacy to leave, yet the absolute power and sheer size of this set gives a brilliant insight into what these guys were about; bringing together the likes kraut, garage, acid and Indian ragas into a psychedelic gun barrel that fires you off onto the astral plane.
The album absolutely powers out of the blocks with ‘Now I’m Resting’. There’s no quiet intro here, just straight down to business with that massive garage rhythm section and punk guitar banging its way right into your consciousness. It tells you that these guys aren’t here to fuckin’ mess about, they’re here to play fuckin’ rock and roll so get with the programme!
If you thought that was high octane, wait until Nudity blast into ‘This Man’ (click here to listen). I love the total simplicity of this song as it pounds into your brain. I love how it is a punk track from both the sixties and seventies, I love how raw it is…but most of all I love how it just keeps coming back again and again. It’s a brilliant, relentless piece of garage rawk that just makes me feel so fuckin’ good. Yeah I like it!
After those two opening pounders, and the track order on this album is just right by the way, comes ‘Moon Druids’ a number that is clearly from the same minds as the previous two but shows a band that is beginning to develop with greater complexity. Fortunately this does result in a lack of immediacy as the Nudity continue to play as if the devil himself was on their tail and they were playing for their lives. Harvey’s guitar is just on the edge all the time as the rest of the band nail it around him. The lyrics of this track also point to what might be to come with a more cosmic psychedelic meaning, even though its not exactly reflected in their delivery.
This is borne out with ‘Birdsong’ which begins with a nebulous misty beginning of sitar and guitar before settling into a hazy acid soaked track. It percolates into your previously pummelled brain and takes you off somewhere that is both beautiful and, again with Harvey’s edgy guitar, has a hint of danger to it. This ain’t no utopia, but it sure is an experience, and at over ten minutes, its one that you can really get into.
After that totally blissed out experience it’s difficult to know where you want to go next. How about some mouth organ? Nope that’s not what I was thinking either, but that’s what you get at the beginning of ‘Hurry On Sundown’ (a Hawkwind cover). Sure it has some folk elements to, but this is a real rocker that isn’t as raw as the earlier tracks but really gets you with its groove and that train just keeps on rolling to the end. There’s always another day!
‘Elevate in Rotation’ takes things back up a notch with it’s Stooges guitar and relentless beat, it sounds like its straight out of the seventies; while at the same time somehow transcending space and time. For me this is the secret to this music. You know where its coming from but it is, at a very raw and basic level, played in a way to make it timeless…I’m already sure that I’ll be playing this music for many years to come.
From here on in the tracks get longer and longer, pointing to a move away from the raw and towards the totally cooked. ‘Rubicon’ shape-shifts its way through your head alighting on different moods and genres as it goes. Psychedelic grooves mix with heavy riffs and melodious vocals to create nearly ten minutes of face melting rock that leaves you pretty wrung out.
Then…THEN…as it fades away into feedback out comes that riff…The Nightfeeders is arguably THEE track on the album. Weighing in at over ten minutes it grabs you from the outset with something that doesn’t seem to let go for ages. Just as you get comfortable it shifts up in a way that to my ears is utterly sublime, for me one of those all to rare musical moments where everything comes together perfectly. From there the track totally has me as it gradually disintegrates into a total freakout, yet with that riff never far away…just magnificent.
‘Make-Up’ is also a long acid infused electric freakout that buries its way into your brain and doesn’t let go (a Flower Travellin Band cover), while ‘Le Premier Voyage du Capitaine’ is a different proposition altogether. At over 21 minutes long it takes up the whole final side of the double album and returns to the eerie and amorphous sitar ragas of ‘Birdsong’, but this time stretched out into a track that is even more considered and mediative. It is an end to a set that has come a long way from where it began, and in one sense asks a great deal from the listener. In another sense though, it is an open invitation to the musically broadminded to come an experience what is an amazing mixture of music.
In many ways this album is something of a hard sell. A collection of tracks from the last decade that move from three minute garage standards to twenty minute sitar wig-outs; and many points in between. All this from a band that has had a significant change in membership over the years, and doesn’t often play these tracks live nowadays (and released a very well received album, ‘Astronomicon’, last year). Yet this double album somehow hangs together very well because it is played throughout with such intensity, such immediacy and such meaning that it is irresistible to those of us who just love music. It has certainly clicked with me and I am in little doubt that, barring something utterly amazing happening, this will most probably be my release of the year and (with apologies to others) by some margin.
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