Live at the Center – Nucleus
With a name alluding to particle physics, quarks, and supersymmetry, you had
to believe the four-piece Nucleus would have a random sound. The group – consisting of guitar, bass, drums and saxophone – sounds like equal parts
Sublime, the Slip and moe., with bebop, prog-rock, and funk influences
imbued in the mix.
Some bands pawn off their eclecticism to garner back-patting praise,or because they have ADD. Or the audience has ADD and they can’t think of a better way to hold someone’s attention for an hour set. However, Listening to Live at the Center,
Nucleus sounds as though it isn’t being multifarious for the sake of being cute.
The group plays with abandon. The jams actually use their varied reference points to go somewhere. Tracks such as "Two by Two" and "Mate" do this without
sounding haphazard simply because of their active interest in what they are
creating. Distorted guitar chromatic wails, bebop phrases intermix, and bass
and drums stomp along to carry the whole manifestation. Fairly impressive
how they reach the eight minute point in an improvisation and haven’t
entered into the dreaded crossroads of banality or crass overplay.
Despite the instrumental fortitude, Nucleus hasn’t perfected its sound
entirely. The quartet’s intermittent vocals, while in key, are often weak in
comparison to the music. Here, Nucleus similarities to the Slip arise; the
vocals are not commensurate to the instrumental performances. Songs don’t
deteriorate into detritus, nothing quite that drastic, but they do feel
somewhat trammeled by the vocals. For a band that sounds so instrumentally
unbound, the vocals sound like a damn yoke.
If the band can harness its vocal ideas, and harmonize with the puissance
it reveals instrumentally, Nucleus could have a sound befitting its
chosen moniker. In the meantime, the band’s enthusiasms should more than
fill in any gaps along the path of its development.