- John Jones's solo project, Nerftoss, only started two years ago, but it's already given the Baltimore artist room to grow beyond the confines of his noise-rock group Dope Body. He's traversed many different styles on the one LP and five tapes he's released so far, but his preferred mode is an expansive, proggy jamming with touches of danceable beats.
Crushed, the first Nerftoss full-length for NNA Tapes, stretches Jones's purview further, focusing more heavily on rhythm. It plays like a club mix, with each track poursing into the next and a prominent rhythm continually driving the music. Much of the percussion was recorded live rather than sampled, which makes everything breathe and pulse in a very physical way. You can feel the sweat not only from the imaginary dance floor that Crushed soundtracks, but also from the musician who made it.
Jones packs a lot into Crushed, veering from polyrhythmic crescendos to soaring synths to hard-edged slams that could double as hip-hop instrumentals. The music has a bit of a hippie air, too, like techno reimagined by a drum circle. It's as if Jones is shooting for the sky, hoping that if he continues to push his music it can carry him into the clouds. But his sturdy, repetitive beats are also grounded, and there's a lot of sonic space here, despite the constant activity. You can move around in these tunes even as they swirl past you.
A few moments stand out, such as the communal drumming of "Bender," the glimmering loops of "Tapioca" and especially the melodic dynamics of "Low Highway," which sounds like a breezy chart-topper from an alternate universe. But even the high points are less important than the album's overall forward momentum, which never wavers. It makes Crushed more an experience than a document, more an atmosphere to get lost in than a set of songs you might hum to yourself later.
01. Some Kind Of Way
04. Virtue Walk
07. Low Highway
09. 22 & C
10. Ever Always
11. Star Picking