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Album Review

by Kody Nielson


Review Date
26th June 2013
Reviewed by
Vincent Michaelsen

A few weeks ago Devils appeared on the scene via Kody Nielson’s Bandcamp account. Released somewhat on the sly by the Opossom frontman and ex-Mint Chick, the 6-track instrumental album has so far received fairly little fanfare. Perhaps you can be forgiven (a bit) if you didn’t take this so seriously at first. The album cover, slapped with an ornamental Parental Guidance sticker, looks to be straight out of Paint and the one word track names aren’t giving anything away either. But, behind the somewhat misguiding face of the album, lies a short but outstanding piece of work.

In Devils , Nielson draws from classic jazz influences like afrobeat and the snappy bass lines of Herbie Hancock while approaching the music with a kind of dark humor very similar to that of Barry Adamson. It’s a grand testament to Kody Nielson’s ability as a composer and multi-instrumentalist (and to his dad, Chris Nielson, for the impressive brass work), and an album that should not be overlooked.

‘Wild’, track number one on the album, begins with foghorns, a gunshot, and then it’s straight out eccentric jazz for the next 20 minutes, through to the end of the record. A couple of steady bass tunes hold ‘Wild’ through to the end of the track whilst an array of instruments and noises fly in and out. Between distant rhythmic hand clapping, looming horns, and small bites of indistinguishable sound there’s an old remnant of scratched vinyl, or feedback rather, being chased through delay pedals and seemingly unable to escape the loop. There’s a clear mix of bold and subtle, near and far going on here that gives the music a nice depth, a feel of three-dimensionality.

While most of the instrumentation here is relatively familiar, and even the style of its delivery, Devils makes for a refreshing listen. It’s upbeat but unburdened by trends of current popularity, existing outside the regular fare of the indie market. Nielson takes influence from a broad range of artists and brings them in cohesively. The title track ‘Devils’ could fit comfortably amongst the likes of Fela Kuti, and perhaps showcases the best instrumental work of the album. The most self-contained track of the album, ‘Evol’, leans heavily in the direction of Gary Numan’s hit ‘Cars’, and has a certain edge to it that is more than a little reminiscent of The Mint Chicks, while keeping in line with the feel of the album. But that said it’s my least favourite track on the album, though likely only due to its contrast to the company it holds.

At a few minutes apiece, the tracks here are well condensed, something of a double-edged sword with Devils . Wildly expansive tracks have come to be expected from music like this, and at least 5 of these tracks could enjoyably go the distance of the entire album length. But, at the same time there’s much to boast about in these mostly short, no-nonsense pieces, which reflect upon much more than preconceived ideas of jazz.


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