With the sound of wavering tones being sucked up into something like a cartoon smoothie, Seattle trio Na kicks off “Na is Nice,” a “debut” album on Pax Recordings following a ridiculous run of self-released cdr output. But then again, pretty much everything about Na is ridiculous– from their self-described “meaningful and meaningless” name, to their total willingness to take any musical path appearing before them.
Take the second track, “B,” for instance. It begins with a truncated sample of bells, and then launches into “little-kid piano recital” territory, soon joined by fairly random cymbals and a thumping bass drum. Some sort of cowpoke wood block rhythm, a healthy dollop of stuttering and skipping electronics round out the excursion as at least one member mimics a guitar, in turn mimicing the piano. In any other hands, this would be a miserable failure– like how I often perceive Zappa albums, all bluster and no real delivery.
However, for Na, it truly comes together. I’d be foolish to try to label it– even they’re missing the mark with “noise pop.” This is music that I thoroughly enjoy, and would love to play along with if I had the chance. In that sense, Na is truly inspiring– for their technical ability to pull these fantastic journeys off live– but more so for presenting a viable path for improvisational musicians of a different stripe to follow. I have a feeling it is going to be a wonderful trip.