Local musician and visual artist Mr. Jenkins (a.k.a. Nick Jenkins) is already revered as a skillful drummer with the technique, flexibility, and grace to handle anything from jazz to blues to pop. His latest solo effort, a nine-track collection titled 8 Bits+Pieces, demonstrates Jenkins’ strengths as a composer and arranger of cinematic soundscapes and sly, silky keyboard pop as well.
Released last month online, Jenkins suggests the album “sounds best through headphones.” There’s enough electric percussion and echo-y effects to merit a close listen. Mixing programming and sampling with live performance, he weaves an almost spellbinding tapestry of stripped-down orchestral pop and organic electronica.
Things swing from dance beat patterns — as on opener “Take to the Meadows” and clangy closing track “Party” — to warmer, more textured pieces, like the three “interlude” tracks (especially the glockenspiel-heavy “Nerd Snacks”). Some of the moodier moments have a hushed air of reflection. Check out the disturbingly dreamy “Lovenest,” replete with warped cymbal samples embellished with extra violin from guest musician Erin McKinley.
There’s bit of Cabaret Voltaire’s sinister/playful synth-pop weirdness and hypnotic Casio drum beat work. There’s a hint of Pere Ubu’s machine-noise distortion. Plus some of the same synthesizer atmospherics that Kraftwerk and Suicide passed along to Devo back in their Eno days. A few verses resemble Air’s recent work … maybe with sore throats and head colds.
Away from his drum kits, Jenkins employed low-budget studio technology as a means of musical composition on 8 Bits+Pieces with nifty results. (paperjenkins.com)