Live is life…
(pretty boorish 80’s austrian pop song)
As most of you are aware by now, we just dropped our very first live record this week, “NERVE live in Europe”, which we recorded while touring last fall.
Although it only took ten days of touring to record the live material, one week of intense listening to make the selections and five days to mix and master it, it’s really a record that’s been over a decade in the making. So it’s not just another record for me, but a dream come true.
The basic idea for NERVE has always been a LIVE event. When I started NERVE I never intended to make any records. From the beginning of the improvised d’n’b jams at the long defunct east village Izzy-Bar and the Prohibited Beatz parties in late 90’s NYC, the immediacy and danger of the live experience was essential. Not the commercial exploitation of a new gadget via product.
One of the things that made it unprecedented and special back then was that we took the live performance out of aesthetic framework of Rock, Jazz or R’n’B and introduced it to an audience that was predominantly wired to DJ culture and electronic music.
Back then I too often heard the recurring mantra of “man you’ve GOT to record that shit!”. But unfortunately, most attempts to capture the vibe of these early days on record were not satisfactory. So I basically had to live with this other recurring mantra of “damn…I WISH we could have recorded this!”.
Over the years we developed a protocol to document NERVE in the controlled environment of a studio, but we could hardly ever capture it in and WITH the wilderness of its natural habitat: the live gig.
On a side note: My friend Julie Covello aka DJ Shaky, who made the great “Prohibited Beatz” documentary about the early NERVE days, still has tons of video footage she shot back then that nobody has ever seen! To consolidate and release all of this footage for people to see is one of my future (and time consuming lol) projects. FYI: here’s you can see Julie’s PB film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IALkXnv36ow
In retrospect, it seems that we not only had to wait for the technology to arrive to make such a recording possible, but perhaps also gain enough distance from the philosophical concepts behind NERVE to be able to capture it. Perhaps the acceptance of the outside world also had to catch up with it and provide a backdrop that allowed the recording to unfold.
In the process, the claims which put the analogue/digital, man/machine relationship under examination actually raised more questions than answers. However, more and more people seem to be becoming aware of these questions, which seems to be forming new community. It’s debateable if this discussion will connect the many existing microscopic cells of cultural intelligence and reach the critical mass necessary to build one big cultural movement. But the nucleus exists and traces of recapturing awareness amongst audiences and creatives can be found you’re looking for it.
I somehow feel that more and more people are starting to long for a WORLD that we can TOUCH again. It seems that touching is related to understanding in a very primal sense. And understanding becomes more and more challenging in this age of information (and disinformation). Touching by exchanging tools of expression like the trackpad and screens of our computers with the physical resistance and feel of vibrating strings, membranes, or the smell and feel of glue, paint and paper.
An excellent example is the art of Christian Calabro who created the artwork for EP5 and the live record. You can check it out here: http://call-a-bro.tumblr.com
I’m not a materialistic person, but I like to be able to distinguish between whats real and whats not. And the beauty and magic of music is that it is not tangible yet it FEELS very real. And one can be TOUCHED by it if the source from where it comes from is real.
In that respect ART can be defined as an abstraction of the real world or “the lie that explains the truth”. I think its a good time to put our focus on the real world and explore techniques that let us experience not less, but more of it. And this new record is a step in this direction. It’s as close as we can get with a record to playing in front of you.
I will elaborate more about this subject in an upcoming post as I’m somewhat obsessed by it.
It will be the NERVE manifesto!