NLF3 – Ride On A Brand New Time (Prohibited)
Ride On A Brand New Time relies solely on its creators’ ability to elaborate on the mundane in increasingly idiosyncratic ways. Bass lines and chord progressions deliver themselves with no fanfare, so it’s completely up to decorations and eccentricities to provide new focus. NLF3 have a moderate capacity for doing this successfully, but their triumphs come when, on occasion, they manage to expand their base (and bass) material into something that the baubles can worthily dangle from.
Youthful exposure to Afrobeat and experimental jazz has not had as much of an influence as the press release would have you believe, and the ponderous nature of some of these largely voiceless pieces leads the listener to wondering whether or not they were half-composed or deliberately minimalist. Indeed, there is a Reich influence that comes to the most exhilarating fore on Hurricane, with its thunderous drumming and equally propulsive melodic snippets, but slips into monotony and aimless ostinato on the following Mmm What Curse?. Echotropic is a fanciful and droning curio, unthreatening for a time with marching drums, but finally and wonderfully erupting into funky satisfaction. All the while, the guitar’s hammer-ons provide immense and constant character, neatly offset by those evolving drums. Joyous construction, you’ll agree on hearing. They sound like an act with the clear capability to excite, but not always capitalising on as they should.
The frustrating thing about NLF3 is that they veer so often between thrilling and ponderous that it renders an exploration of the album in one sitting a thankless task. When the corners of invention, the moments of undiluted expression and the chimes of innovative sound construction ring in your ears, intrigue and occasional bewilderment rule. When the songs are constructed and just fill the bars, waiting for the next cycle of four bars to roll around before the next instrumental augmentations arrive, they are a numbing prospect. This is the danger of leaning too heavily on the supposed maxim that if you have a little bit of what is a proven winner (in this case, Hot Chip’s bass parts and shuffly afro drumming) and failing to indulge the wilder material. Far from empty, Ride On A Brand New Wave simply needs to have been constructed with less regard for what the audience might not like.