Sunday, February 25, 2007

"What's left behind means everything to me"

Canadian distributor Storming The Base has discovered and is
selling a cache of "Seven Steps Of Nervousness," the long out-of-print and sole release by New York-based outfit NCC. "Seven Steps" was put out by Gashed in 2000 just before the label folded, and the band seems to have vanished off the face of the planet for all intents and purposes shortly after. So what's the big deal, you ask? What distinguishes "Seven Steps Of Nervousness" from the hordes of releases by other EBM bands who fell into the memory hole? The fact that this record slays.

Recorded when the three band members hadn't even hit 20, "Seven Steps" shows none of the heavy debt to influences that mark the debuts of so many other bands who'd go on to do astonishing things with an EBM template (Gridlock, Haujobb). Instead, this is a record that brutally attacks just about every EBM convention in the book by slamming them seemingly haphazardly against each other: trance-influenced builds lead only to ambient plateaus, beats erupt and abort indiscriminately, tempos swing radically in all directions. The predictability of so much modern dancefloor EBM almost seems to be being parodied, your expectations suckerpunched. You'll never quite get the hang of these cuts yet they're nothing if not compelling, rewarding, and fun as all get up to dance to. All this being said, there's not a moment or sound on this record that's sloppy: instrumentation, production and atmosphere are all honed razor-sharp, giving NCC a richly developed sonic world in which to rampage.

The easy way out call this record the sound of a young band trying to find their fit or make their mark, swinging aimlessly for a mode they haven't quite located, but that's not quite accurate. Sure, there's the keening, passionate need to put forth a mission statement of sorts that can be found on the debuts of so many bands who actually give a shit about what they're doing, but there's never a moment on "Seven Steps" at which you don't believe that NCC are completely comfortable and confident in the chaos they're dropping.

Like I alluded to before, concrete information about this band is notoriously scant, but a myspace page has recently surfaced. Whether it's official or not is unclear, but the myspace and site of vocalist Jay Slack mos' definitely are. Even better, the latter features some tasty mellow electro tracks Jay's done more recently. Check them out, check out the NCC tracks below if you've yet to hear them, and buy a classic record of exploratory EBM while you still can.

NCC - Seven Steps Of Nervousness
NCC - Weiteck


Anonymous said...

Dream King

The mastermind behind NCC last I had heard, fell in with the hardcore Anti-American, Anti-Semitic organization ISM which harbors, supports and appologises for terrorism against civilians.

James Cooney said...

This blog is great. I used to work with Gashed (and later Inception) and never got this disc, though always wanted it. I've been thinking about doing a similar thing (posting MP3s on a blog) from this era (Scar Tissue would be my first choice) but you beat me to it.

J.J. said...

Is the official myspace.

I've actually started REALLY listening to them recently, but I remember when I was younger chilling with the band in my aunts basement, and watching them go at it.

All very talented people. Other than just being awesome with synth stuff, David J is also great with a guitar. I had a nice lil jam session with him on my Acoustic on Thanksgiving.

If you'd like, I can ask him what the hell happened to the band. =)

God, I love my family. lol.