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Monday, 2 December 2013

SubVersion Stop 217: Nic TVG - Then I Disappear (Subtle Audio 2xLP / CD / DL) - review 3 for The Wire Magazine

Nic TVG - Then I Disappear - review 3 for The Wire Magazine
Subtle Audio 2xLP / CD / DL

The journalistic jungle revival of the last 6 months, from The Wire's Joe Muggs commenting on dBridge being from a genre long "declared moribund" (drum 'n' bass) by the mainstream music press, to Mixmag's "Jungle is back" article by Alex Jones, only goes so far in counter-measuring that these experimental fusions of breakbeats, sampledelia and Auxiliar-ite (see the Autonomic movement in 2008) genre-crossing never went away. Nic TVG, the Pinecone Moonshine label owner meanwhile has a dependency on drumfunk, one of the many subgenres of drum 'n' bass that combines funk, jazz, jungle and hiphop. Coined by Paradox circa 2004, "Then I Disappear", Nic's debut LP can be observed as a serving of semblance with all these genres and influences.

With "The Clown" a dedication to Charles Gayle's street jazz persona, the hoppy parallels with IDM of "Out Of No More" and the titular "Then I Disappear", Nic dose-drops us with his main surgically-annotated weapon: depth of drum work. Time-stretches on the opening piece "A Mouse Among Monsters" thuds like a polluted heartbeat in LSD-infusion with Autechre-ish synths and whirlwind rides. The pace is stripped back by noir-esque strings that accent on the synths later on, leading into "The Clown" and its nappy-clappy hi-hats and snares. It's the baby of the set, a naive walker stumbling on a jazzy modulated bass, only to be shot in half by filtered breakbeats that cut up the sound space like an angle grinder stuffed with jazz samples from the Davis/Hancock continuum.

Nic's persistent strength on this album, and indeed all of the Subtle Audio label's releases (The Wire's Simon Reynolds commented "original, exciting, inventive" to the CD that was sent to him on Blissblog in 2007) is that he just lets loose with whatever creative (and) percussive trajectory that appeals to him for writing. "Playing Drums As Pads" reverses the placement of drums in the mix in an ideological point of view, and it's little touches like these that keep the reader on their toes of his narrative with the jazz and funk greats of old. So though firmly rooted in breakbeat and drum 'n' bass / jungle BPMs, "Then I Disappear" is certainly not something straying from the systematic of adventure, no matter where he's gone after the 12 tracks have been handed over to Conor O' Dwyer (brother of Second Language's Aine O' Dwyer). And wherever the trail leads, the results are never less than excellent.

Mick Buckingham

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