As we grow our relationship with technology, we are forced to reconcile what artist Denver Nuckolls refers to as the “current device based climate.” In his EP “dead account” (2023), Nuckolls anticipates an eventual technological overthrow of human endeavors by producing acoustic sounds that are progressively overpowered by digital processing. His EP stimulates feelings of intangibility as the tracks crescendo into a point of highest poignancy once they are digitally synthesized and processed.
The six tracks on Nuckolls’ EP represent the six angles of a human/technology relationship. Nuckolls uses percussion sounds and digital processing to document the inescapability of technological advances that society is responsible for creating and promoting. He highlights the consequences of electronic development in replicating how we, as individual beings and a society, allow technology to dismantle and eventually overthrow us.
Upon first listening to “dead account,” I was reminded of Radiohead’s Ok Computer, as the record experiments with electronic influences to describe how we are moving towards a technologically-dependent society. In particular, I am reminded of Radiohead’s seventh track on Ok Computer, “Fitter Happier.” Though it is lyricized unlike the tracks on “dead account,” “Fitter Happier” also becomes increasingly digitally processed, criticizing human dependence on technology which was at one point in time meant to be supplemental to society. I am impressed and captivated by Denver Nuckolls’ control in mastering each track as to escalate into complete digitization purely through instrumentation and electronic efforts.
In his first track, “Mixed Medium,” I noticed a sense of playfulness and lightness, as the pieces of the track are produced softly and harmoniously, and almost ballad-like. However there is a sense of dysregulation that begins to skew the timing and key tones as the electronic sounds pan into the second track, “Overstimulated.”
As I reached halfway through the EP with the third song, “Undeletable,” I began to grieve any acoustic sounds. Upon contemplating the title of the track and listening through it, I began to question the irreversible damage of this device based climate. The shuffling sounds of static electricity behind the percussion brought about feelings of chaos and apprehension.
As irreversible as the third track suggests, the fourth track, “Phantom Ringing Syndrome,” pronounces a sense of eeriness where the sounds are digitally processed enough to recognize the electronic glaze over acoustic sounds. The title of this track and the faded ringing outro reminds me of the development of musical tinnitus, an incurable syndrome of incessant ringing as the brain overcompensates for a lack of stimulation. Similarly, but more abstractly to the point of digital production, this track reminds me of the irreversible damage of technological advances.
As we near the end of the EP with the fifth and title track, “Dead Account,” I feel almost transported into a society where technology has almost completely overthrown us. I am fascinated by Nuckolls’ decision to make this track the shortest and to come to a sharp halt before transitioning into the final track.
In the sixth track, “digital comforts (Bonus Track),” each sound is produced after being completely digitally processed. It feels somewhat daunting to hear the complete overthrow of technology, but fulfilling enough to ease the anticipation of all acoustic sounds becoming altered and killed by electronic processing. The frequencies in the beginning of these transformative nineteen minutes made me feel warm and comforted in a way, but as they become drowned out by the crackling of digitally processed melodies, I felt more aware of what the digital future has in store.
When listening through this EP, I felt myself begin to question my relationship with technology. As I entered the EP, I felt a sense of innocence and joyfulness like our relationship began with technology. As the EP progresses, I notice that the digitized instrumentation evokes a sense of mournfulness in grieving acoustic/human musical endeavors. Denver Nuckolls’ EP “dead account” masters the eventual overthrow of technology where as a society, we are responsible for creating an irreversible digital climate.
Check out “dead account“ by Denver Nuckolls in Issue 22 of Digital America!
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Sarah Wirth is a Sophomore at the University of Richmond and is double majoring in Visual Arts and English. She enjoys playing and listening to music, painting, designing, reading, and writing.