[MIX-AND-MATCH DANCE] Most critics define the music of Nudge by stating what the band doesn't do, how its music cagily defies any genre-straitjacketing-which is true, yet completely fails to nail down what Nudge is. The band's music is resolutely mix-and-match, but never for the sake of avoiding classification; the band's three members jam for hours and hours, tweaking their tunes until they sound just right. As a result, Nudge's latest, Cached, is a patchwork of an album: The band's sound veers from ambient escapes to shape-shifting drones to dubs to housey pulses to Afrobeats-all within one tune. Nudge also makes lovely pop-ditties when the band feels like it.
Within the Portland music scene, Nudge is something of a supergroup, featuring creator Brian Foote (who runs the Audra Glint and Outward Music labels), Paul Dickow (who records as Strategy and is starting a new label called Community Library) and Honey Owens (who plays in World and Jackie-O Motherfucker and co-owns Dunes). Foote and Dickow first teamed up in Fontanelle, both playing multiple instruments, and when they play live, that experience shows: The two come off as scientists lost in their projects and oblivious to the outside world. Owens, in her near-whisper vocals and knack for rhythmic noise collages, resembles Kim Gordon's younger and more talented sister.
Owens lists the group's touchstones as Can, Eno, Augustus Pablo, King Tubby, Cluster, Neu, My Bloody Valentine and Kit Clayton, though their "influences are vast and change all the time." However obscure the inspirations, Nudge has the ability to channel them into a pure pop-noise groove, as the band did a few weeks ago at the Holocene anniversary party, proving itself one of the best bands in Portland.
A commitment to finding beauty in new and unexpected ways holds the trio together. And while Foote is about to relocate to Chicago to be with his girlfriend, Nudge will hopefully continue to build on what it's created on Cached, its first album for Chicago's Kranky label and the band's most blissed-out yet focused release to date.
"The fine fellows at our label are really hands-off with any kind of art direction and went so far as to say, 'Don't feel like you have to push some "Kranky button" when making the album for us,'" Brian explains. "If we did anything consciously, it was to try to use a slightly narrower palette of sounds overall to add another thread to the album and point to some oblique similarities between stylistically different songs."
Nudge plays with Rollerball and the Plants at Holocene. Wednesday, June 29, 9 pm. $5. 21+.