Sunday, February 17, 2008

Raw Nerve

Bone/Doctor Nerve @ Orion Sound Studios, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, February 17, 2008

Nick Didkovsky: guitar
Hugh Hopper: bass
John Roulat: drums

Doctor Nerve
Nick Didkovsky: guitar
Leo Ciesa: drums
Yves Duboin: soprano saxophone
Rob Henke: trumpet
Ben Herrington: trombone
Jesse Krakow: bass
Michael Lytle: bass clarinet
Kathleen Supove: keyboard

Nick Didkovsky has chops. He also has a strong bent toward harried complexity via odd time signatures and algorithmic creations. And yet he has an uncanny musical instinct for plying these twin demons toward the service of creating a grand sound. The music of Bone - a recent trio collaboration with fellow progressive rock veterans Hugh Hopper and John Roulat - and Doctor Nerve deftly avoid the pitfalls of self-indulgence and complexity for complexity's sake. That he arrives at this sound without compromising its cerebral underpinnings or losing sight of the Dionysian appeal of jagged grooves and sharp-edged, compact solos is a testament to a creative instinct that gives Didkovsky's compositions and performance unusual cross-over potential.

If the Floristree is the secret, abandoned industrial space converted into Baltimore's young hipster, BYOB venue where the recent smoking ban cannot be enforced then Orion Sound Studios is the warehouse space for Charm City's hip old-timers. Tucked deep within a semi-industrial neighborhood, the converted loading dock/recording and rehearsal space has a surprisingly warm sound thanks to extensive acoustic treatments found on the walls and in the rafters. Equally surprising is the thriving cultural eco-system drawn together by a passion for progressive art rock musics. Armed with camping chairs, coolers and decibel-dampening ear plugs this was an audience prepared to devour the Nick Didkovsky experience.

One of the reasons for Doctor Nerve's longevity is the wide range of techniques Didkovsky applies to his creations. This is particularly true with the way he makes use of his horn section as the players alternate between realizing tight, orchestrated charts and free improvisation. At one point the band leader set aside his guitar and conducted his large group from in front of the stage. His combination of hand signals and forceful timing cues sculpted a sound that was often both ugly and sublime. As their set shifted early from a handful of Doctor Nerve standards to a long stretch of new material it became clear that this ensemble remains as vital and committed as ever.

1 comment:

the improvising guitarist said...

Vive Doctor Nerve!