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Nerve – ulu

Harmonized Records

Listening to Nerve, the fourth release by ulu, I can imagine a hot

night out on the town turning sweaty. Some friends around, a few drinks and

such in me and the band onstage with the volume pressing the notes against

gyrating bodies. All in all, it would be a night to get a good groove on.

I think about that because, on its latest studio effort, the band

implies what it can do as much as it fulfills any and all musical promises.

problem isn't with the musicianship. It's solid. And the songs move along

fairly strict confines of the jam jazz aesthetic that throws a little funk

early '70s soul into its mostly instrumental mix of sax/flute, keyboards,

and drums. The combination reminds me of Topaz's The Zone. While I

criticized that album's slick production values, the material and
performances overcame

them. Here, it's not always the case.

Occasionally, Nerve is hampered by the band members' desire to give

the listener a pristine-sounding representation of the music. In this case,

the focus on such matters can make some of the numbers sound labored

Paul" "Rollin'"). Sure, there's a nice groove moving 'em along. And I will

that upon several listens what initially didn't move me started getting

my skin, but it's still a noticeable fact when compared to the second half

the album. "Spare Tissue," "Shady Lady," and "The Tragic Flight of Sir

Hawk" are examples of the quartet displaying a fire in its belly that's

elsewhere. The ballad "Reunited," and even the interesting choice of

covering David Bowie's "Space Oddity," act as nice counterpoints to the


For those who are enthusiasts of this style, ulu can serve you well.

In my case, the band took me for a bumpy ride that got better with each

passing moment.

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