Vinyl Record: The N.E.C., Cruel Sea

Cruel Sea

Under the direction of vocalist/guitarist and founding member Cyrus Shahmir, the N.E.C. crafts a dense maze of whirling psychedelic rock. With the current line-up of James Oh (bass), Jay Royals (drums) and Chris Kaufmann (guitar), improvisation plays a subtle but significant role in filling the gaps between the loosely structured notes and tones that guide their songs into clouds of noisy, aural bliss. Think Can, Swervedriver, Miles Davis and Love and Rockets at the peak of their most fiery moments, and you’re tapped into the same groove that drives the N.E.C. — CHAD RADFORD

I started the Natural Extension Concept (the N.E.C.) in high school, but not really as a band. There were different people playing at the first show than there have been at subsequent shows. In that regard, the N.E.C. is about exploring musical possibilities and writing songs, but also working with other people. It’s about expression as a form of expansion of consciousness, not in a new age sense, but in an actual visceral way where when you hear something it makes you think something.

The music isn’t improvised; some of the recorded material between the songs is, but there are definite songs that we write and play. Everyone plays their instruments and knows what they’re doing but is willing to try different approaches. Chris, for example. I’ve never played with anyone who hits the sounds and the tones in a way that I can trust. And I know that he’s always going to hit them. Jay is the man, too. And Chris and Jay were in Sovus Radio together so they know how each other play music. James is someone whom I have known for a long time, and I can always rely on him to know what’s going on and behave like a professional, be easy to work with and do his part. Amongst everyone in the group, the root of our approach centers around the idea of: if there’s a basis for an idea it can be built upon exponentially, and with this formation we’re doing pretty much what I’ve been going for ever since I started playing music. — CYRUS SHAHMIR of the N.E.C.