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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
our

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.
The

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

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

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

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
("Where's

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

numbers.

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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