This Naytronix article was written by Ben Malkin, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Josh Hummerston.
As a member of tUnE-yArDs, Nate Brenner is no stranger to piling together colourful collections of catchy and creative songs. Brenner is a bigger creative powerhouse than a lot of people often give him credit for, contributing not only instrumentally but also compositionally to a great deal of tUnE-yArDs’ content. This was most notable on Merrill Garbus’ project’s most recent album, 2014’s near-masterpiece ‘Nikki Nack’. An overlooked trait of the overall sound of the album is the bass guitar, which Brenner plotted and presented himself, and said trait shows up and shines a lot on his new album ‘Mister Divine’ – again released under his Naytronix project title.
Nate Brenner seems to have a great love for the bass, his primary instrument – allowing it to dazzle and ring through each speaker, making it the instrument in particular to listen out for in his recordings. The songs ‘Dream’ and its successor ‘Back in Time’ both have really significant basslines and bass performances in general, but they’re both knocked out of the park by the track that follows. ‘The Wall’ sees Brenner rock out on the bass throughout the entire track, being helped every now and then by pads and buzzing guitars, but all in all he sure knows how to use his love of the instrument to his advantage.
Creatively, the album is strong but not consistently memorable in that aspect. A few tracks have really curious structures and rhythms, but it seems ‘Mister Divine’ suffers from pacing issues when that sense of imagination isn’t in the foreground. The electronic backdrop presents itself well, but songs like ‘I Don’t Remember’ and ‘Future’ lean towards the humdrum as the production style falls flat and ceases to serve as a means to impress. Also, there are a few tracks, like the mentioned ‘Future’ that are a bit more stripped back, and feel quite empty.
The vocal performances on ‘Mister Divine’ are fine, and the lyrical performances are occasionally whimsical, especially on the title track as Brenner sings “did you get a slice of the pie?”. Not much else really stands out, but nothing is particularly bad in that department.
Nate Brenner is a very talented musician, as demonstrated on ‘Mister Divine’ – but from a creative standpoint, his work on this album unfortunately pales in comparison to his work with tUnE-yArDs. There are pieces of promise scattered around the record, but for every imaginative detail, there are a few hollow moments.