Dax Pierson first turned up on my radar because of his collaborative album with Robert Horton. I worked a lot with Horton during the Digitalis years, but remember being bowled over by Pierson’s approach and contributions on those recordings. I sadly lost track of his work shortly after, but when his official debut record, Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction), turned up and I blasted it through my speakers, I was hooked all over again.
Pierson has a keen sense of melody and rhythm and an even keener sense of experimentation. There are no limits on his palette and he lets his ideas lead him, finding surprising expressways that catapult Nerve Bumps into infinite directions. Acid-soaked bass and beats propel “For the Angels” stratospheric, glistening synths howling like mad in the background while the dancefloor levitates toward the great blue above. Catchy, playful leads are barbed wire, hooking anyone within earshot.
An urgency emerges on “Catch,” bass splatters across the floor while pads drown beneath the heady gravity of another midnight run. “Catch” showcases Pierson’s ability to craft angular narratives, digital missives firing off in all directions but anchored by a central, pulsing grind. There’s a Carpenter-esque, horror-infused core holding the multifaceted aural structures in the air. It’s utterly hypnotizing and impossible to look away from, a neon trainwreck hurtling through deep space.
Even in the calmer moments, like the closing combo of “For 2_24” and the 12-minute, free-floating “NTHNG FKS HRDR THN TM,“ an unerring deluge of heavy emotions and aural experimentalism shine through. With the former, Pierson pieces together prismatic arpeggios that split into vivid laments, chords crashing the party like a tidal wave, blasting everything in ultraviolet melancholy. “NTHNG FKS HRDR THN TM“ watches the sunrise over the smoldering ruins, relief, and respite as the dawn breaks our hearts into tiny pieces. Surviving, hardly thriving, but alive to see tomorrow anyway. Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction) is a real feat.
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