Navi, a not-quite-instrumental duo consisting of guitarist Jon Hawkins and drummer Kyle Flanagan, have been capturing the imagination of RVA’s more tuned-in music fans for a couple of years now (we even profiled them in our Fall 2013 print issue). However, actual releases from the group have been sporadic.
Navi, a not-quite-instrumental duo consisting of guitarist Jon Hawkins and drummer Kyle Flanagan, have been capturing the imagination of RVA’s more tuned-in music fans for a couple of years now (we even profiled them in our Fall 2013 print issue). However, actual releases from the group have been sporadic. This month, though, Navi has finally brought out some new music–and it’s been a long time coming. An explanation for the new Illuminavi EP that appeared on the band’s congruently-named tumblr page reads more like an apology at points: “Illuminavi up for listening. Sorry it took so long. Delusions of grandeur,” they begin, going on to mention that the EP was recorded “literally a year ago.” “We couldn’t figure out how to put it out but whatever it’s the future. The internet.”
As long as they figured it out eventually, it’s good enough for us. Now we can enjoy the music in all its bizarre glory. Hawkins’s extensive array of effects comes into play on opening track “Rainbow Pox”–he manages to make his guitar sound like a guitar, an organ, and a cartoon spaceship all at the same time. Meanwhile, Flanagan gets his Zach Hill on, flying all over his kit building intricate towers of lightning-fast drum fills. He’s proven his facility in a minimalist context with his drumming for primitive garage-rockers Nervous Ticks, and now, given a full kit to work with, he delights in the possibilities for percussive mayhem it presents. But on the EP’s centerpiece, “Steeb Pop’s Last Afro,” both Flanagan and Hawkins pare things back from their usual multilayered chaos. This song, which is almost as long as the EP’s other three songs combined, features a lengthy middle section in which Hawkins plays a series of melodic, barely-distorted riffs while Flanagan restricts himself to keeping a metronomic pulsing beat on bass drum and tambourine. This tune shows that despite Navi’s tendency towards chaotic abandon, they are able to focus their talent in other ways, and have much more to offer than it may seem at first glance. Their tumblr promises an upcoming split with prog-jazz quartet Dumb Waiter–let’s hope it arrives soon.
Navi’s Illuminavi EP can be downloaded from their Bandcamp page HERE, or streamed below.