Reviews of Ereia, new CD by Doctor Nerve and Sirius String Quartet

Ereia CD cover art by Bill Ellsworth

Although New York City guitarist Nick Didkovsky has formidable ties to much of the downtown scene, his compositions for the seven member Doctor Nerve are substantially more challenging than your basic Bowery/Boho skree-for-all. Using deconstructed phrasing, computer-generated scores, and intuitive improvisation techniques, the Nerve is one of the most fluent ensembles currently nestled in the Big Apple. While Didkovsky's last few albums have responded to the liberty of digital recording technology (even providing "Nerve Events" for other electronic composers to sample), Ereia is a long form, commissioned work featuring the Sirius String Quartet (joining Doctor Nerve). Divided into three distinct movements (including an incendiary, 20 minute in-concert portion), Didkovsky mixes searing Stravinsky-like chording with inexplicable avant-rock moves. With its abundance of classical discipline (though hardly letting the ink dry on the scores), cyber treatments and free skronk execution, Ereia is the first major work of 2K, poised to be measured against by composers and musicians of the future. Exceptional.

Doctor Nerve with the Sirius String Quartet (Cuneiform Records)

By Glenn Astarita

Founded in 1984 by guitarist/composer Nick Didkovsky, New York City based “Doctor Nerve” have been terrorizing audiences here and abroad with their distinctive blend of avant-garde classical, progressive-rock and modern jazz. And on their 7th release titled Ereia, the septet along with the “Sirius String Quartet” perform a series of works that entails three movements recorded live and in the studio.

Nick Didkovsky’s compositional ideologies and/or implementations often defy categorization. The first movement sounds like some bizarre spin on a C&W hoe-down featuring clapping and peppery strings amid a sense of adrenaline induced urgency. Jaunty titles such as “She Look He Spit”, “Flesh Comes Out” and “The Thorn Piercing His Coat” might seem a bit morose by design yet the band and the “Sirius String Quartet” alternate and converge via razor sharp choruses and scathingly emotive motifs. Throughout, the music contains unorthodox time signatures, incidents of semi-controlled mayhem; boisterous yet shrewdly performed horn charts and sterling improvisational sequences. The twenty-minute Second Movement titled, “For Being Nice To The Wrong People” is a live 1997 performance that boasts abstract military march beats, punctual arrangements and heated soloing from trumpeter Rob Henke, woodwind specialist Yves Duboin and others. During the third movement the listener will hear multi-layered horn charts, crashing percussion and hybrid classical/prog-rock lines engulfed within intricate patterns that dispel raw energy yet tight and well-organized arrangements. (In fact Didkovsky scored some of these pieces via computer generated software.)

Ereia is delightfully unruly and at times ominous yet Didkovsky’s extremely complex writing and the musician’s synergistic involvement conveys a lucid depiction of the visual, as though they had embarked on some hallucinatory or previously unimaginable adventure! Recommended.

* * * * (out of * * * * *)

Doctor Nerve is: Nick Didkovsky; Electric Guitar, Composer: Greg Anderson; Bass: Leo Ciesa; Drums: Yves Duboin; Soprano Sax, flute: Rob Henke; Trumpet: Michael Lytle; Bass Clarinet: Kathleen Supove’; Keyboards. –

Sirius String Quartet: First & Third Movements; Joyce Hammann; Violin: Mary Whitaker; Violin: Ron Lawrence; Viola: Tomas Ulrich; Cello: Second Movement; Todd Reynolds; Violin: Liz Knowles; Violin: Ron Lawrence; Viola: Mary Wooten; Cello

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