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Nubdug Ensemble — 52 Pickup / A Chip and a Chair
(Pest Colors 42.NEEP, 2022, Split EP)

Amanda Chaudhary — Merp Friend
(Catsynth Records ACHS 5050, 2022, Split EP)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-01-23

52 Pickup / A Chip and a Chair Cover artMerp Friend Cover art

An interesting morsel of great music here on this split EP, two songs by Nubdug Ensemble and three more by Amanda Chaudhary, making for a grand total of just over twelve minutes of music, give or take. The opening numbers feature Nubdug Ensemble, the first is “52 Pickup,” a crisp and curious – yet overtly elegant vocal tune featuring singer Jill Rogers, supported by electric piano, drums, saxes, electric guitars, bass and flugelhorn, the several sections of the piece are dynamically juxtaposed with contrasting power. This all happens in just over two-and-a-half minutes, and it’s the only vocal piece to be found anywhere on the EP. Next up is “A Chip and A Chair,” co-written by group leader Jason Berry and drummer John Hanes, an instrumental piece of roughly the same length as the opener with a more distinctly chamber feel, with prominent clarinet and flute, something that might fit well into Zappa’s oeuvre. Chaudhary’s opener (she also played keys on both of the Nubdug tracks) is the bouncy and playful “Sam Sam’s Theme,” led by clarinet, bassoon, and a little sax, against what seems like part eastern European folk and part cartoon music; all taken it’s one of the most instantly memorable cuts on the entire EP. Why do I think Sam Sam is a kitten? Most of the musicians in Nubdug Ensemble also feature on Chaudhary’s pieces as well. “For Luna” is a solo explorative synthesizer and percussion piece by Chaudhary, offering numerous layers of strange and curious sounds. The closer “Merp Friend” features a full group including a four-piece horn section, drums, bass and more, with a bold, catchy and colorful main theme delivered on synthesizer, the piece falling somewhere between light fusion and funk. There you have it, five excellent songs, twelve outstanding minutes, and so much to recommend.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Vacuum Tree Head / Nubdug Ensemble, Amanda Chaudhary, Grant Calvin Weston

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