8 August, 2020

Nape Neck – Nape Neck

Gringo Records have a habit for finding musicians and bands that are esoteric, yet still somehow accessible. There’s an edge to the artists that makes Gringo’s one of the most exciting back catalogues of all the current UK labels. The debut album by Leeds based Nape Neck (which we somehow missed in February but resurfaced in June) is another welcome addition. Nape Neck are a guitar, bass and drums no wave three piece in the vein of Numbers. They are a groove heavy, rhythmically deranged proposition.

Bobby Glew (Guttersnipe) swaps his wild drums for a guitar and boy does he have a harsh tone. His playing is all fidgety scratches and single notes that cut like razors into the mix on You Stand, You Sit. It’s all pinned down by Claire Adams’s (ex-Beards) revolving bassline and Kathy Grey’s (also ex-Beards) tight, precise drumming.

It’s prescriptive but not intimidating in its mathy structures.

The vocals are just as crazy. How on earth they manage to play and sing at the same time is beyond me. It’s almost like Molejoy (BTTB favourites) without the feeling that they’re about to fall apart at any moment.

This perfectly controlled chaos, continues on the frantic and bendy Job Club. It deliberately collapses and picks up the groove again like someone expertly styling out a fall.

Despite the complex rhythmic structures they really know how to groove. No Platforming has a great bass line, Beefheart-esque rolling drums and joyful call and response vocals. A Worm is perhaps the closest they come to sounding straightforward, akin to a sugar high version of The Plan. They pack a lot into the just over 2 minutes 20 seconds.

Demonstrations, the longest track on the album, perhaps also serves as the highlight. The crazy syncopated vocal chants, bass and drums seamlessly shift around each other while Glew’s guitar jabs little robotic phrases, bends and furiously scratches like he’s fending off an infestation of angry ants. It’s a masterclass in nervous, twitchy no wave and is so exciting to behold.

The vocals at one point almost sound like a Balinese Kecak dance!

Beaters is frantic, yet disciplined, with a stop start rhythm that constantly trips up before breaking down into a revolving bass line with the guitar and drums snaking around. It feels like listening to a coil slowly winding before it pings back into shape.

Glew’s guitar sound reaches peak gross on the heavy grooving Paperweight. The tone sounds like the guitar is actually crumbling apart. The rhythm section are absolutely hypnotic here too.

Nape Neck close off their 8 track debut with Melt Banana style guitar pings and scrapes and phenomenal vocal rhythms on The Gate. The bass line is played at a rapid staccato while the drums trip and roll around like they’re falling down the stairs, albeit in perfect time. 

Nape Neck, it has to be said, are utterly phenomenal and no doubt spectacular live. This album bridges the gap between nerdy math rock and hip no wave. It should appeal to (and be essential listening for) fans of both.

‘Nape Neck’ is out now via Gringo Records. A vinyl version may materialise in the near future

You may enjoy this if you like:

The Jelas, Lucy Leave, Deerhoof, Red Monkey, Numbers, The Plan, Box, Handle, Molejoy, Melt Banana

Listen here:
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