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Published: 2001/07/17
by Chip Schramm

Lights Down Low – Nomadic Design

It’s hard to say if "Lights Down Low" should be considered the first album
from Nomadic Design or perhaps a sampler of what the New Jersey-based band
offers at the present time. There isn’t a wealth of information about the
album’s creation within its liner notes, but suffice to say it seems to be a
self-release and offered through the band’s web site without any record
label participation. The five tracks within it are raw and unbalanced,
leaving a lot to be desired in both concept and performance.
The first track of the five, Brother’s Song, has the same simple
guitar riff repeated over and over, without going anywhere fast. The vocals
are rough and bare and need much more support from the studio engineer and
producer. The verses of the second
track, Run Away With Me, have a carefree spirit and decent hook, but
otherwise lack any profound message or inspiration. Steve Sherak provides
one of the highlights of the album with a nice guitar solo as they "jam in
the key of G".
Chillian is an instrumental, which is probably a good thing. The
eight-minute track gives Dave Zuckerman a chance to show off his chops on
the keyboard, before his solo gives way to a guitar interlude that is
clearly influenced by Phish’s live work. After a peek in the middle, they
return to the same keyboard lines that began the song, following a
predictable pattern, save for some anarchic cacophony at the very end.
Like Gravity has a leg up on the first track as the vocals have been
given some studio effects to make them more palatable, but the songwriting
still lacks distinctive character. There are definitely some psychedelic
forces at play within, however the band took the road most traveled and
seems unable to verbalize their feelings in a way to hold the listener’s
attention. Pink Floyd and Phish are obviously the roots of this tune, but
Nomadic Design doesn’t play outside of the box enough to create anything
exciting with the sounds they employ.
Lastly, the final song really ends the album on a sour note. Simply titled
A New Number, the twenty (20) minute track begins with a spacey,
noodling instrumental passage, that later gives way to a long and tedious
vocal jam. It’s hard to guess what the band had in mind when they were
recording this one. At best, it could be compared to the Beatles’
Revolution No. 9 or a vocal jam from Phish’s You Enjoy Myself.
Im not sure if the band was trying to be kitschy or cute
but ultimately they fail in this regard. It takes a lot of work to get a
garage band out of the garage. This group still has some way to go.

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