Anonymous London trio Nrvs bring together their recent output in the form of an EP, consolidating their prediction of a dystopian existence, that’s no longer in the future but instead inescapably with us all in the here and now. Likening the everyday to a ‘Clockwork Orange’ style horror show or the psychic bodyshock from a David Cronenburg film, Nrvs are as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!
The EP’s been co-produced by the band at Off License studios in South London, where Peeping Drexels, Muck Spreader, Sleaze, Joy Crookes and Attawalpa have all frequented. To kick things off, opening track I Like You expresses the banality of falling in love via a phone screen, or should we say ‘falling in like’ and the intensely shallow one-dimensional aspect to such an existence. The music’s repetitive nature further establishes the idea of a mental (or spiritual) void while being driven home by a Chemical Brothers style block rockin’ beat and distorted bass line.
Leading on from I Like You is the psyche ballad Breeders – a slowly creeping sense of unease conjured up by an audio palette of sparse ethereal guitar and electronica, morphs into an ever more chaotic landscape,while vocalist Ten Pence questions people’s individual motivations for bringing a new version of themselves into a vastly overpopulated and overrun planet.
The EP’s crescendo comes with the abrasive post-punk future classic Scum. With its driving grunge guitar leading the way, Scum sees Nrvs at their finest with Ten Pence yet again pointing the lens at all us humans currently living on the planet – and how, although we’re collectively the future of the human race, we’re also fucked and on some level seem to actually like it that way!
As with the EP’s opening track I Like You, closing track The Sane plays further on the dreary world of mechanised dating – a sort of industrialised mating! This hip-hop inspired track channels elements of the Wu-Tang’s RZA proclaims Ten Pence, while lyrically it’s messing with the well-trodden sayings ‘doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity’ and ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ – surely they’re just different sides of the same coin… no?
Speaking about the EP as a whole Ten Pence says “it’s not a concept record but it does have arcs and we’ve used a set of videos to pull all the songs together into a narrative. To do this our sci-fi-not-sci-fi body of work was translated by London creative Grainfreeze (who’ve worked with Dinosaur Pile Up, Attawalpa, Noel Gallagher, Kendrick Lamar) and 3D artist Matt Bateman (Aphex Twin, Daniel Avery) into a ‘space opera’ making the release even more juicy! As for the idea behind the record, for me… people talk about the apocalypse but it’s already happened. There’s just a delay on it: the bomb’s gone off and we’re experiencing this weird still pause, birdsong and all, between detonation and the shockwave hitting us!”
Initially inspired by the Wu-Tang Clan, Ten Pence was rapping in an underground hip-hop band before forming Nrvs. “These guys were coming from a world unimaginably far from the world we (Nrvs) grew up in, yet somehow I felt a strong connection, in attitude rather than sound and have tried to carry that feeling forward bringing a sense of protest and similar ethos into Nrvs’ music” says Ten Pence.
Along with frequent visual collaborator Mike Raymond (HMLTD), who’s created several retina-scorching videos for the group, Nrvs are shaping “a nightmare-normal vision of the near future, that you can dance to”. Their music has enjoyed radio play from Radio X DJ John Kennedy, Steve Lamacq on BBC 6Music, Jack Saunders on BBC Radio 1, BBC Introducing Yorkshire (See Yer was their Record of the Week) and many other stations around the globe. Now, after a period of exile for Ten Pence, the London based trio are gearing up to present an anonymous live experience alongside the EP release that will send you back to your shrink!
Many artists have been shrouded in mystery: the music and the visuals should strike you first, whether you’re ready for them or not, and on this debut EP, Nrvs aim to spell out the writing that’s already on the wall – the story continues…