Music

Nudge: As Good as Gone

\

If you’ve got a patient ear to lend, clear some time and space in your top floor and fall under the spell.


Nudge

As Good as Gone

US Release: 2009-09-08
UK Release: 2009-08-24
Label: Kranky
Amazon
iTunes

When after comprehensive listens, a record still evokes the notion of atmospheres or certain immeasurable landscapes, one can’t help but wonder if this is a plus or a minus for the record and artist. Has the record managed to dig deep into the listener’s subconscious, setting up shop within resources only few could hope to tap? Or has the record pigeonholed itself as a piece of mood music, only seemingly attainable with the aid of external factors? Naturally, this depends from record to record. As Good as Gone, the fourth LP from the impossible to contain Nudge, features an ebb and flow that remains so daunting yet fresh that it won’t be leaving your subconscious anytime soon.

Never having heard Nudge before (and finding very little in the way of background info online), I was slightly wary before I hit play. With nothing but a bland painting of a howling wolf adorning the cover, my skepticism was palpable to say the least.

But let me state the obvious when appreciating the spacey, comfortable drone of As Good as Gone: Never judge a book by its cover. And never be afraid to let your preconceived notions of how a record should sound prevent you from a sonic odyssey like As Good as Gone.

Opening with “Harmo”, a five-minute horn and harmonica-induced trip through the ever expanding confines of space rock, Nudge make five minutes feel like a blissful eternity. Perhaps this is where As Good as Gone borders on mood music that is susceptible to external factors: if you’re feeling edgy or incomplete, “Harmo” may very well annoy the shit out of you. But if you’re eager for a ride, it’s the perfect start.

“Two Hands” features the angelic vocals of Honey Owens rather prominently, amidst a scratchy, hypnotic dub beat. At this point, if you’re still game for the journey, figuring out where As Good as Gone will head next is a lost cause. Whereas originally I had this record pegged as something of a Sigur Ros rip-off, it's soon obvious that Nudge went into the recording of As Good as Gone with very little in mind as far as direction.

“Aurolac”, quite possibly the album’s standout track, somehow makes six and a half minutes sound imminent as possible. Guitars ripple out a lingering Sparklehorse-esque vibe. A wall of echos do their best to encourage listener participation, but by this point, As Good as Gone has released a tranquilizing dose of sorrow and space. Though only seven tracks in size (yet clocking in at 39 minutes), it’s during this fourth track, which resonates with optimism, that listeners will probably fish or cut bait on As Good as Gone.

Records ripe with palpable emotion (and fist in the air choruses) often get tagged as being “not for the faint of heart.” When the “Dawn Comes Light”, the eight-and-a-half minute closer kicks into its rousing, synth-laden crescendo, I realized that this As Good as Gone isn’t for the faint of head. Granted, those not in the mood for Nudge’s spaced-out symphonic sounds probably wouldn’t hold a dead rat near this record, but that’s neither here nor anywhere. If you’ve got a patient ear to lend, clear some time and space in your top floor and fall under the spell.

7

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image