DAX PIERSON - NERVE BUMPS (A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction)
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Dax Pierson’s first full-length studio solo album is coming to LP/ CD / CS / and digital via SanFrancisco’s Electronic powerhouse imprint Dark Entries Records and Oakland’s Ratskin Records collective. Dax Pierson, an Oakland, CA based electronic music underground legend has pushed the boundaries of experimental electronic music once again with his
Dax Pierson’s first full-length studio solo album is coming to LP/ CD / CS / and digital via SanFrancisco’s Electronic powerhouse imprint Dark Entries Records and Oakland’s Ratskin Records collective. Dax Pierson, an Oakland, CA based electronic music underground legend has pushed the boundaries of experimental electronic music once again with his two-plus years in the making soul-moving, full-length experimental electronic opus “Nerve Bumps; A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction’’.
On “Nerve Bumps” Pierson blends hip hop, funk, and jazz sensibilities, with complex, dark, harrowing percussion, John Carpenter-esque arpeggios, 808 trap/anti trap-influenced drum programming, musique concrete conceptual experiments, nodding to later Talk Talk and fellow queer producers Matmos, who’s new album, Pierson contributed to Futuristic synthesizers cut through layers of fog, as Pierson’s heavy, bombastic drum programming bridges new worlds within themselves, pulling rhythmic influences from sources as diverse as Prince and The Revolution to Moor Mother, and Ras G.
For an album that’s mostly instrumental, Pierson tells a complicated, nuanced and inspiring story, which is both a privilege and a gift to experience, but only on Piersons’ terms. Tracks such as “I Slay The Pain” reiterate once again that although Pierson has to live his life as a quadriplegic, often in a motorized chair, this, nor any other singular experience defines him as an artist nor a person, and this is the story, one of the stories told within the near forty minutes of “Nerve Bumps”. Throughout the record, Pierson mainly utilizes the voice as additional instruments, and yet even with very few discernible lyrics, the story’s narrative and timing is never lost. Honesty, empathy, and humanity bleed through the speakers like a dark liquid just underneath the skin’s surface. For Pierson, music is his lifeblood, both as a creator and a listener. The epic, cinematic synth heavy “For The Angels”, plays as a masterclass in heart and body moving rhythms and undulating synthesizers, the only track from “Neve Bumps” to be previously released (albeit in live form), takes on an even bigger life in this studio version. Pierson methodically moves us through unknown landscapes and we discover a path into his world, and we now have the privilege to peer inside. Pierson’s breathtakingly complex and endlessly rewarding sonic worlds created on “Nerve Bumps” utilize self-constructed systems, custom designed and integrated to tell his story with as few creative limitations as possible. “Nerve Bumps” realizes this to his fullest in a spectacular show of force of contemporary electronic prose, a magnum opus within Pierson’s musical lexicon.
The album’s title, “Nerve Bumps: A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction” which references a quote from American dancer and choreographer Mathra Graham, who once stated, “No artist is pleased... There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” This quote, which addresses a universal conundrum amongst artists of all disciplines, also served as Pierson’s personal manta throughout the two year writing and recording process of “Nerve Bumps”. Pierson used this mantra as a mental and psychological weapon against the pain, and physical limitations of living as a music producer who also happens to be quadriplegic, as well as the abnormal and often violent peaks and troughs of producing as a Queer, Black Disabled artist in America, as a member of the human race in a crumbling world being torn apart at the seems by capitalism, ableism white supremacy. The album’s cover displays a painting of the same name, titled simply “A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction” by Pierson’s partner, renowned multidisciplinary visual artist Chuck Nanney. The title serves as a conceptual throughway through Pierson’s idiosyncratic processes in the creation of both “Nerve Bumps” as well as validation of his own experience as both a musical inspiration to many as well as a survivor.
“It’s the thing that I can’t not do, it’s the thing that keeps me going. Without this I don’t really know what I would have”
- Dax Pierson
The near-impossible and often horrifying experience of completing “Nerve Bumps” under the painful and exhausting realities of an almost constant schedule of dialysis, hospitalizations, surgeries, and recovery periods where he cannot produce, Pierson has been forced to constantly re-adopt and reinvent his relationship to making music. Pierson directly confronts the listener with an act of solidarity to the disabled community at large with the track “Snap” “Snap”, the album’s shortest, and darkest and perhaps most abstract track, begins with sputtering orchestral swells which slowly become encapsulated by splintering shards of Pierson’s voice - cracking, layered and transposed across multiple spaces sonic and mental spaces, shifting between demonic growls and hymn-like chants, each with their own architecture holding the contents of pain, change, recovery, resilience, and triumph.
”Snap” , a continuation/remix of Pierson’s 2019’s, “A Snap of The Neck” which Pierson iterates the phrase, “Don't take your physical abilities for granted, for you lose them with a snap of the neck” - a sort of mantra referring to a 2005 accident which partially paralyzed Pierson. Although the album’s shortest track, clocking at just over a minute, “Snap” serves as a lesson about Pierson’s relentless determination to relearn new music production methods, as well as share his experience with losing certain physical abilities.
““I had to wait for certain technologies to exist” -Dax Pierson
Pierson’s music mimics his personality in many ways; it’s generous, robust, warm, nuanced, and detail oriented, and with “Nerve Bumps” we get the full scope of Pierson’s deep-seated investigations into his musical and philosophical practice and the existential and very real frustration of a world that was designed for him.
The albums’ epic, near twelve-minute closer serves as a beautiful distillation of the complex web of experiences and emotions that unfold throughout a careful listen of “Nerve Bumps” . The album’s closing, and longest track, “NTHNG FKS U HRDR THN TM” is a perfect distillation of the complexities of human emotion displayed across the near forty-minute sonic journey of “Nerve Bumps” The warm, heavy, punching synthesizer programming bends us down a psychedelic spiraling slope with a masters hand. For a largely instrumental album, Piersons’ uncanny ability to turn musical spaces into their own worlds, packed with information and rich with discovery and reward, allow us the privilege into the psychological realm of Pierson’s own personal electrified Afro-Futurism. “Nerve Bumps” is Pierson’s magnum opus to date. The seminal work from one of the bravest artists we know. We hope it transports you sonically, conceptually, and spiritually across as many spaces and rhizomes of beauty as much as it has us. credits releases February 26, 2021
Nerve Bumps was mastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. The front cover features a painting of pink and green horizontal stripes by Pierson’s partner, artist Chuck Nanney. A photograph of Pierson’s wheelchair by Lenny Gonzalez graces the back sleeve. Dax’s guiding mantra throughout this journey has been a quote from choreographer Martha Graham: “No artist is pleased… There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”