Harlem’s No-Neck Blues Band (a/k/a NNCK) shut themselves in the studio for 72 hours, pieced together feet and inches of tape Holger Czukay–style, and emerged with their most enigmatic recording since 1998’s Live at Ken’s Electric Lake. What Clomeim lacks in grizzled hermeticism is reconciled by the ensemble’s embrace of psychosexual groove-riding: the sort of greasy rock murk once dealt in spades by the likes of German Oak and Far Out. Put simply, they continue to do what they do best, which is to find startling new ways to simply let sound happen.
Indeed, most of Clomeim‘s songs eschew the hunt-and-peck approach to improvisation, instead going effortlessly tail over head into the sonic morass. “The Coach House” winks wantonly at Sunburned Hand of the Man and does remarkable things with unremarkable song structure: A melodica hovers wonderfully over well-hung dude rock that could’ve been an Eat a Peach outtake. But the vibe here is palpably darker, and gets full fleshing on “Ministry of Voices,” which pairs sax- and string-scatter with singer Michiko’s ecstatic night-hag gutter wails, turning the seven-minute piece into a blood-soaked witch raga. The most ambitious moments are found on “La Promesse Miruco,” a hazy motorik rocker built upon unsteady foundations of tonal noodle and moan-and-groan wordlessness. It’s simultaneously jarring and liberating to hear the band lock into a groove Sonic Youth would be likely overjoyed to stumble over. Holding blatant disregard for musical identity and steadfastly refusing to shy from uncharted territory have always been NNCK’s greatest impulses. Clomeim shows an ensemble at the height of its powers, creating patchwork collage out of innumerable genres and perhaps creating a few new ones along the way.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 5, 2008