"NERVE BUMPS" on Pitchfork's Best Electronic Music of 2021
"A former member of Anticon-affiliated groups Subtle and 13&God, Dax Pierson has been involved in the Bay Area music scene since the early ’00s. His solo discography in all that time might have been more voluminous, had a 2005 van accident on tour not left him paralyzed from the torso down. It took him years to develop a compositional method adapted to his disability, and it’s tempting to say you can hear that gestation in his debut solo album, Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Satisfaction), which overflows with ideas. Created on iPads and Ableton Live, the album flows like the output of a machine with a mind of its own. Elements of techno, acid, industrial, rap, and synth pop collide and combine, spinning off fractured beats into uneven time signatures and flurries of post-classical melody. Yet for all its turbulence and contrasting emotions, it is a remarkably focused sound, sure in its purpose as it carves a twisting path to the stunning finale of “NTHNG FKS U HRDR THN TM,” a 12-minute descent into some of the headiest, most introspective dark ambient of the year. – Philip Sherburne"
DAX PIERSON "NERVE BUMPS" in Pitchfork - Feb 2021
"NERVE BUMPS" Pitchfork Review : 7.7
"There are referents: “Keflex,” named for an antibiotic, tangles what sound like guitars tangling around what sound like Linn drums, for a healthy reminder that Prince was a Cocteau Twins fan. It also grinds as heavy as anything unearthed by, say, Long Island Electrical Systems. The coldwave of “Catch” warms itself by the fire of blown-out snares that occasionally shoot off sparks of trap-ish hi-hats. “I Slay the Pain” is aptly named: Percussion at the top end pays tribute to that finger-snap sound that’s still the queen of gay house, with a deeper-than-deep bass and healing piano chords. “NOTHING FKS U HRDR THN TM” closes up with six minutes of interstellar travel into a clearing Angelo Badalamenti might recognize, and so might Lee “Scratch” Perry, and so might KMRU—a circle of Black techno and jazz and dub traditions made new." - Jesse Dorris, Pitchfork
'NERVE BUMPS" Resident Advisor Review:
"Pierson deals with the fallout of such events directly on Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction). Previous versions of some of these tracks appeared on a live album, Live in Oakland, released back in 2019. The interlude "Snap" is taken from the poignant "A Snap Of The Neck," off the former record, where he murmurs in a gravelly voice, "Don't take your physical abilities for granted. For you can lose them—at the snap of the neck." "For The Angels," meanwhile, addresses the Bay Area scene's collective trauma, composed in remembrance of the late victims of the Ghost Ship fire. Elements of Pierson's road to recovery are written across the album's track titles, and transmuted into what he terms "mid-fi" epiphanies. The twittering, upbeat melodies of '90s Autechre show their face on the loopy beats of "Keflex," a cut named after an antibiotic he used throughout his treatment. On "For 2_24," written in honor of the anniversary of his injury, somber notes trundle through ambient drones, but there are wisps of optimism in the traveling chords that lead the track out. Pierson paints the landscape of emotions experienced in the near 20 years since his accident with apparent ease. The longest track on the album, "NTHING FKS U HRDR THN TM" (or "nothing fucks you harder than time"), is a sonic black hole that's easy to get lost in. It captures the vast and daunting nature of time that few are willing to confront—until it's too late." - Kiana Mickles, Resident Advisor
DAX PIERSON in XTRA MAGAZINE "Dax Pierson's Experimental Techno Chases (A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction)"
“Since I am not a lyricist or songwriter it’s a way for me to express that reality of my life,” he says. “I do find it therapeutic, especially the ‘Treading Water’ piece. I struggle to hold my neck up every day because of the pain, so it was a cathartic, creative way of getting out some of these issues. It’s also a way to let folks who are part of the disability community know that I’m one of them.”
The album’s title is embedded with meaning for Pierson and his partner. Nanney originally used the name for a gallery exhibition in 2018 at the same time the musician was working on his own project. Becoming a creative mantra for both artists, it is based on a quote from the celebrated dance choreographer Martha Graham: “No artist is pleased,” Graham once told the choreographer Agnes de Mille. “There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
Pierson believes the hardships he has experienced throughout his life have made him better equipped for the road to physical and mental recovery. He shares empathy with queer, closeted artists in the world of hip hop who may never come out due to the pressures placed on them by the music industry. Thankfully, he learned to be himself long ago, and has even mended a relationship with his 80-year-old father." - Jesse Locke, XTRA MAGAZINE
"NERVE BUMPS" in "Seven Essential Releases This Week" on Bandcamp Daily
"The title of the new album from acclaimed Oakland electronic artist Dax Pierson is taken from something Martha Graham once said: “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.” Pierson is well-versed in pressing on despite great odds: in 2005, while on tour with the Anticon act Subtle, he was involved in a van accident that damaged his spinal cord and rendered him a quadriplegic. He started his career over from scratch, learning to produce using a laptop and iPad apps. His riveting 2019 live album opens with the repeated phrase: “Don’t take your abilities for granted—you could lose them with the snap of a neck,” before plunging into a series of murky, enveloping tracks that have more in common with drone than dance music. Nerve Bumps exists at the opposite end of the spectrum: a bright, euphoric dance record that feels both jubilant and triumphant. Album opener “Adhesion” is a stunner: a giddy techno scrambler that pauses for a few minor-key chord stabs before re-entering the quarter-note fray. “Catch” is a moody, pulsing number with the eeriness of EBM, and on “Keflex,” synths blister and pop over a frenetic melody line. But Pierson saves the tour de force for the end: the suffocating, 12-minute “NTHNG FKS U HRDR THN TM.” A thick pool of groaning electronics, the song builds and swells ominously until it finally opens up to reveal a gentle, beautiful melody bubbling beneath the noise. In that way, it feels like a summary statement for the record as a whole: the moments of grace and possibility that emerge from the darkest of circumstances." - J. Edward Keyes, Bandcamp
"NERVE BUMPS" Review in Radical Art Review
"That is what art should do after all. It should communicate an artist's view of the world, to their audience, in as universal a way as possible, so it can be understood by anyone who cares to listen. Pierson's ability to do this is testament to his abilities as a musician and composer. He creates atmospheres that absorb the listener and immerse them in the artist's reality. We're never going to be able to experience what another person experiences, but a good artist can at least explain it to us. Pierson does just that.
With Nerve Bumps A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction, Dax Pierson has created a beautiful series of musical pieces that will inspire and enlighten. If you're brave enough to listen closely you might even learn something." - Richard Marcus, Radical Art Review
"NERVE BUMPS" in THE VINYL FACTORY "Pierson Draws On Hip Hop, Jazz, Musique Concrete In Debut Solo Studio Album""
"NERVE BUMPS" Reviewed on KFJC
"NERVE BUMPS" in "The P.A. Review" Passive Aggressive
DAX PIERSON in 48 HILLS " BEST OF: Support These Artists Directly"
DAX PIERSON in NEW NOISE MAGAZINE : "Ratskin Double Feature"
"Pierson’s Nerve Bumps combines hip-hop, funk, and jazz with futuristic synth to create his unique electronic sound. Despite the album being mostly instrumental, Pierson manages to convey a complicated, nuanced, and inspiring story. Vocals are used mainly as additional instruments, yet the narrative and timing is never lost, with the emotions of honesty, empathy, and humanity bleeding through the speakers throughout the record." - New Noise Magazine
"NERVE BUMPS" Review in The Concrete Bunker
"NERVE BUMPS" in XLR8R