Nerve features a collection of artistic and creative arrangements, ranging from neck-breaking funk to lounge jazz. "Where's Paul" kicks off the album with a taste of 70's funk, led by keyboardist Scott Chasolen. Chasolen's dynamic organ playing has garnered ulu comparisons to Medeski, Martin and Wood, but it's the tenor sax playing by Aaron Gardner coupled with interesting bass lines by Brian Killeen on songs such as "Rollin'" and "Slinky," that help separate ulu from the rest of the pack. While the members of ulu are obviously very proficient at their instruments, it's their use of space and restraint in their songs such as "All You Can Eat" that provide a refreshing change of pace that's often hard to find in improvisational/instrumental bands. The rocking "Bovine Confines" showcases Josh Dion's fiery drumming behind energetic horn and keyboard lines, lending this song to be a potential surefire set closer.
Though essentially an all-instrumental band, ulu experiments with excursions of rap and spoken word on "Give Yourself Away" and "the Tragic Flight of Sir Donkey Hawk". While the latter produces rather uninteresting results, the chanting at the end of "Donkey Hawk" is a rather fitting end to the experimental synthesizer based arrangement. As ulu has become known for their creative, instrumental and unexpected cover songs, the album closes in convincing fashion as the band glides through an instrumental version of the David Bowie classic "Space Oddity".
Overall, Nerve isn't necessarily a strikingly original collection of songs, but it's full of catchy melodies and highly cohesive musicianship. The tunes show a lot of promise to be stretched out and improvised on within a live setting, which is ultimately what ulu does best. - Glide Magazine
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1. Where's Paul?
4. March of the Sloth People
5. Give Yourself Away
6. Spare Tissue
7. All You Can Eat
8. Shady Lady
9. Bovine Confines
12. The Tragic Flight of Sir Donkey Hawk
13. Space Oddity