Nickodemus :: Endangered Species
"Compared with hunter-gatherers, citizens of modern industrialized states enjoy better medical care, lower risk of death by homicide, and a longer life span, but receive much less social support from friendships and extended families," wrote UCLA physiology professor Jared Diamond in his epic Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies. Carnegie Melon Economic Professor Richard Florida, in his groundbreaking The Rise of the Creative Class, observed a similar situation: while more acquaintances may be aquired, we have less intimate relationships. If we wondered why John Lennon looked at all the lonely people, this techno-schism could very well lie at the root.
Technology, like any instrument, is not inherently good or evil - the application is what matters (remember the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel invented dynamite). Technophobes claim Armageddon embedded into microchips, and naturalists preach the demise of community. Yet the paradox: a community never imagined (save in William Gibson's mind, perhaps) forming through the invisible waves of infrared dreaming. To select and invoke, progress and create: like anything human, the passions behind the art reveal intention. The result for soul-seekers is like child to candy, eagerly navigating a formless world with infinite possibility.
The paradox laced within Brooklyn DJ/producer Nickodemus' first solo outing is the perfect segue from speculation to actualization. Endangered Species (Wonderwheel) could very well refer to the aforementioned calamities of industrialized societies: severe disconnection, uncertain confusion, instigated tension. Using the sword that caused the wound as a sonic balm, he applies technological proficiency into a global-influenced record, a danceable compilation of six years of Turntables on the Hudson infamy. Simultaneously it is an important testament to worldly community; the delicate weavings of African, Balkan, Middle Eastern and Latin instrumentation reveal a thirst for endless inspiration.
Nickodemus employs a unique perspective throughout Endangered Species. Instead of matching cultures on their terms, he weaves them into his New York City upbringing. Residing in this world unto itself - where any and every country is represented in fair numbers - he takes the bass-heavy hip-hop foundation of street life and crafts a sound indigenous to future lives. The Arabic architecture of the now-classic "Cleopatra in NY," featuring Carol C; the house rhythm underlying the gorgeous clarinet-led Balkanish "Crazy Stranger;" the vocal immediacy of hip-hopping "The Global Village," "The Spirits Within," and "Give the Drummer Some," the latter featuring the lyrical dexterity of local The Real Live Show; the softness of "Back to Africa." These are the dreams-turned-reality of Nickodemus' mind.
For those who've spent numerous Friday nights dancing til dawn on Chelsea's Frying Pan, you know the welcoming intimacy created by the TOTH crew. After six stellar compilations from this party, Nickodemus formulates this solo effort to showcase what a man reliant on sharing produces. Within these dozen tracks resides a conscious effort to raise the spirits within, as he puts it. Perhaps, truly, this is the "Mystery of Life" vocalist Andrea Monteiro refers to at the album's close. Harmonizing above Jonathan Maron's killer bassline, Victor Axelrod's tricked-out melodica and Nicko's poignant production, nothing remains mysterious. All hearts and minds are wide open, and if that's a danger of technology, then this species has truly lost something essential.