Nerve Picnic - Phalanx Of Echoes

Year of Release: 2005
Label: independent
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:13:00

And so the grand trilogy ends. No, not the Evil Dead trilogy, for crying out loud ? how do Bruce Campbell fans find their way into every nook and corner of the world anyway? No, my loyal two readers. What? They left 'cause I haven't mentioned them in months? Seriously? Oh, well, let me rephrase. No, my loyal empty space in front of the proscenium. Not that trilogy, but my trilogy of Nerve Picnic reviews, culminating in the band's first and finest moment: Phalanx Of Echoes.

What makes this album quite the standout element in the aforementioned trilogy is that, for once, most of the aimless meandering that constitutes the core of Nerve Picnic's compositional approach is gone. Not completely, mind you. One could still appreciate it if some more thought were put into tracks' endings, and there are a couple of truly exasperating moments (which is not much of a surprise) in the not-really-that-funny humor of "Silicon Tango" and the tedious "Dymaxion Industries." So it's the good old (or better put, new) Nerve Picnic in a way. But in another, it's a completely different animal, to which the quite beautiful developments of "Phalanx of Echoes Part II" and "Resonant Impulse" attest. This time around, there is a sense of gradual blooming, a sense of tension and resolution, a purpose to the appearance of new musical material. In other words, a sense of direction. And one can't help but wonder what would happen if these fine, upstanding, young American men decided to take that further in the future. Then again, considering how much The Monkees sucked, I'm going to leave this talk about upstanding young men behind and hope that Linder, O'Neal, and Schaeffer fry their brains on laced cookies instead.

Getting back to difference in musical development, however, the listener can easily tell that something still remains the same: the messy jamming nature of the group, which is just as present on its debut as on its two follow-ups, and which is most evident on "Toxic Boogie One." Yet the approach actually manages to hit the mark at times, and pretty solidly at that on "Garden of Warblers," with an insidiously catchy bass line and some nice programmatic guitar work; and "Piano Voyage," an answer to Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky" that, if not half as good as the classic, is still definitely one of the best tracks on Phalanx Of Echoes. In fact, it is when the band seems at its most serious and willing to cut down on the self-indulgence (and as a result, also on track length) that the results are the most satisfying. Curiously enough, this does away with the charming naïveté of following Nerve Picnic outings in the process, so that this one earns its grade as most other normal albums would. That's right, no pesky molds or stoned friends this time around.

Yet, as usual with Nerve Picnic's music, the outcome is really only appropriate for a mere handful of listeners out there, even if the handful suggested by Phalanx Of Echoes is larger than that of Sonaquarium and Factory Of Dreams. The production, as usual, is something that most people in this day and age will not tolerate, and despite the shining moments in this baby, the balance is still not good enough to grant Nerve Picnic a passage into loftier realms. Who knows? Maybe the laced cookies will change that in the future. For now, however, this band remains in a category of quirky curiosities that few will really be interested in checking out, and even less in following.

Phalanx Of Echoes Part I (2:16) / Toxic Boogie One (5:32) / Phalanx Of Echoes Part II (6:16) / Garden Of Warblers (3:02) / Phalanx Of Echoes Part III (5:44) / Night Stream (1:10) / Silicon Tango (7:19) / Phalanx Of Echoes Part IV (1:46) / Piano Voyage (1:55) / Dymaxion Industries (3:02) / Resonant Impulse (4:20) / Nerve Endings (12:13)

Matt Linder, Mike O?Neal, Bill Schaeffer - Synthesizers, guitars, theremin, keyboards, effects, percussion

Phalanx Of Sounds (2005)
Sonaquarium (2005)
Factory Of Dreams (2005)

Genre: Electronic

Origin US

Added: April 2nd 2006
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 963
Language: english


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