Primitives EP

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The gist San Francisco musician releases debut EP of fuzzy electro-acoustic ponderings The music Art Nikels' debut EP Primitives kicks off with "Hesitation Makes", an interesting free form jazz experiment which includes a strange other worldly vocal, some twinkly keys and a distant drumline. It's opening bars are in the vein of Thom Yorke, but without the structure or soaring choruses. So basically, yeah, just like Thom Yorke. Eventually this all makes way for a wacko, trip through various spaced out folk and prog soundscapes which perk your interest but never fully engage. I'm still talking about the EP's opening track here but you could you could probably apply that logic to the whole record. It's perhaps because the songs seem so distant, both in terms of production and the lack of any real hooks. Then there's Nikels' wavering and slurred vocal style which is a definite acquired taste will divide many listeners (the relatively short run time may come as a relief to some). Weirdly, and this goes against all my usual preferences, Primitives works best when Nikels tones down the madness and plays it straight, like on "Hue", which has a verse like a classic lullaby (with the caveat of having a breakdown that descends into a mild jazz nightmare). This seems like a testing ground for Nikels' undeniable talent and curious songwriting quirks, and it certainly won't scare listeners off taking a punt on his future endeavors. Have a listen and then wait and see what the the debut album proper throws up. Listen to "Hue" - A rare respite of clarity and narrative on a album which is otherwise lo-fi and hard to crack. Nikels takes us on a trip through the light and dark of his complicated mind on Primitives' undeniable high point. "Whipped Cream" - the other extreme of this EP, this track utilises a simple echo-ey guitar strum and some layered, indistinguishable vocals harmonies to form a, mesmeric, low-key EP closer.