Nobody knows who first said it, but somebody was wise enough to say that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Well excuse me one moment while I arabesque the hell out of The Shard. This was never more apparent than when I began to think of ways to describe Jojo Mayer and Nerve. Couldn’t be done. This may have been my last review had it not been for Miranda Sawyer (Miranda Sawyer, Guardian) whose article reminded me that it was actually fun to write about music. She persuaded me that there was validity in absurdity.
So let’s start with some facts. There was a keyboardist, Jacob Bergson, a bassist, John Davis, a drummer, Jojo Mayer and a sound desk engineer, Aaron Nevezie. It was electronic style dance music played acoustically. They are influenced by the likes of Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and Photek but this ain’t no cover band (although that is also damned impressive, Casimir Liberski). They sound like electronic music but are all jazz. However, this ain’t no drum and bass beats played over jazz (although I think you are amazing, Gogo Penguin). There is a definite band leader and indeed it is hard to take your eyes off the technical wizardry of Jojo’s playing. This ain’t no lesson in technical show-offery, though.
On the sensory side, it starts in the glutes. According to Prince’s sound engineer, Susan Rogers, Prince used to talk about the music that is as familiar to you as your home and the people on your street (6:08). The DNA of the underground sound systems of Nottingham’s dance music scene implanted itself in my glutes, lying dormant until awakened again by Jojo Mayer and Nerve. In the 1990’s, the band was formed as part of an underground party scene in New York. There was a definite club feel to the gig which meant that if you were someone who remembered the actual original 1990’s, there was much limbering up and stretching to do first.
So, although this doesn’t entirely describe the gig, as TS Elliot said: ‘genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood’ (Poetry and the Examined Life, Gerald Huml) which can also be said for great music.