2021 favorites · new music

Dax Pierson’s Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction), Ratskin / Dark Entries

techno / IDM / space music


More like this – Lukid’s Lonely At The Top (2012), Laurel Halo’s Chance Of Rain (2013)

When adding more 808s and the same 2-3 vocal riffs to old genres seems to pass for ‘the future’ in these past few years, it’s reassuring to hear something this hard to box. While his Dax’s mechanical, syncopated beats have plenty in common with techno and IDM, his background goes all over the place; from musique concrete to post-rock. He tweets: ‘It’s as if folks can browse my record collection through my music.’

His grainy, swamp-like textures have enough going on to reward close listens, but what double-sold me was the way each song transforms at such a fast rate. “I Slay The Pain” for instance. It adds several new ideas during any given minute, from a glitching piano to mutating drums to Dax’s own voice. In the end though, it has a coherent mood and every transition makes sense. These songs feel [i]alive[/i]. They work as a journey as much as they do as songs, with his beats bursting in all directions like we’re zooming on ships through his own future world. It mirrors the familiar cyberpunk dystopia but without that done-to-death synthwave slant.

My other favorite songs and moments:

  • The steely, mysterious synth pulses of “For The Angels”, resembling a more surreal take on space music. A fast-paced but careful build-up that hypnotizes me without making me wait whole minutes for single elements to pop up. Laurel Halo fans rejoice.
  • That mountainous, resonant crumble that kicks off “Catch”, reminding me fondly of Fever Ray. Like the rest, it invites my curiosity as much as it intimidates me. This cave has alien beasts lurking in it.
  • The way these hectic rhythms halt for the ghostly synth-organ and despairing guitar fuzz of ‘For 2 24’. The result sounds like an android’s-lament, equal parts creepy and mournful.
  • The menacing alien atmosphere that opens the ambient/drone track ‘NTHNG FKS U HRDR THN TM’.

Considering Dax’s struggles with quadriplegia along with ‘an almost constant schedule of dialysis, hospitalizations, surgeries, and recovery periods where he cannot produce, ‘ the sheer dedication he shows to his art blows my mind. If you like your e-music mechanical, exciting and/or distinctive, don’t miss this.

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