[Review] Nubdug Ensemble – Volume One: The Machines of Zeno

Nubdug Ensamble is the new music project of Jason Berry, co-founder of the band Vacuum Tree Head. The genre proposed by this band is oriented on experimental sounds, forays into Jazz and cinematic music, characterized by very short pieces mainly instrumental with few vocal parts. The first album titled “Volume One: The Machines of Zeno” was released on December 10, 2020 via Pest Colors Music and contains 9 tracks for a total of about 20 minutes. The “Espejo” opener is a mix of hypnotic synth sounds, orchestral carpets reminiscent of 80s soundtracks and sporadic vocal inserts. A song that summarizes the sound concept expressed by the band, intricate and often difficult at first approach. “Bronze Puppet” is tighter and closer to Jazz sounds with the presence of winds and an elaborate rhythmic session. Remember the pieces of jazz improvisation, full of experimental sounds and solo virtuosity. “Pimento Boots” like the previous one, the duration is just over one minute, with intricate plots, winds and voice and experimentalism that intertwine throughout the track. “Spicy Mango” is also very short, with a rhythmic session reminiscent of Caribbean music, enriched with positive melodies that almost make you want to dance. “Logjammin‘” despite just over 3 minutes, is one of the longest sections of the record, starting with dark percussive sounds that intertwine with the piano. With a very slow cadence, it is a complex and articulated piece, which perhaps needs more listening to really grasp its essence, perhaps too complex. Closer to the Jazz sound, “Trapelo 445” has a more direct structure, although it is always very elaborate and the phrasing between the instruments is very articulated. Interesting are the violin and wind inserts as well as the bass lines, resulting in bearing and at the center of the sound. “Prelude to Alea Iacta Est” is the intro of the next track, with an effected vocal and a very elaborate piano. “Alea Iacta Est” is the longest of the album, the intro of which recalls the turn of chords of Take 5, then developing on the initial melody a song halfway between a soundtrack and a Jazz song with a pleasant vocal. maybe it will be for the duration that allows you to hear something more than the other tracks, but I find it the best section of the disc. The album closes with “Act II from Nancy Luna” which begins with phrasing between winds and piano, and then develops plots always permeated with Jazz and with a strong experimental connotation. The continuous tempo changes are an added value, the drum parts are also interesting, sometimes rhythmic that add sparkle. A complex album, difficult to catalog, touching several styles and genres, with a very particular duration. It certainly requires different listening and an ear trained in certain sounds, the short sometimes very short duration of the tracks prevents the band from developing the themes and expressing their full potential. An album that will be appreciated by those who are familiar with such an intricate and particular genre, while it will be more difficult for lovers of classic or symphonic Progressive sounds.

Tracklist

1. Espejo (02:33)
2. Bronze Puppet (01:53)
3. Pimento Boots (01:26)
4. Spicy Mango (01:11)
5. Logjammin’ (03:12)
6. Trapelo 445 (02:18)
7. Prelude to Alea Iacta Est (00:31)
8. Alea Iacta Est (03:13)
9. Act II from Nancy Luna (03:02)

Lineup

Jason Bellenkes / Saxophones, Clarinet, Flute
Jason Berry / Programming, Sound Design, Additional Instrumentation
Myles Boisen / Guitars
Sheldon Brown / Flutes and Bass Clarinet
Amanda Chaudhary / Synths, Keyboards, Electronics
John Ettinger / Violin
Lucy Foley / Voice
Paul Hanson / Bassoon
Amy X Neuburg / Voice
Brett Warren / Bass Guitars
G Calvin Weston / Drums and Percussion

Nubdug Ensemble |Bandcamp|Facebook Page|Spotify|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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