Reunited sister percussionists Shayna Dunkelman & Nava Dunkelman are clearly enjoying themselves on Card II, an exuberant EP that passes all too quickly but lifts the mood like a latte. Nava is familiar to our readers as half of IMA, while the sisters together are named NOMON. And while readers may assume that the EP is a sequel, the title refers to the Rorschach card “that reveals how a subject is likely to manage feelings of anger or harm.” The most obvious answer to Card II is that the sisters draw energy, strength and inspiration from each other. Any residual sorrow they may have experienced on separate continents dissipates in each other’s company. The Rorschach test is also a series of mirror images from folded paper, reflected in the siblings’ collaboration.
From the opening seconds, the stereo effects highlight the twinned percussion. Even the synth notes travel around the speakers as the sisters have travelled around the world. From hi-hats to drum machines, with military cadences and struck objects, “Kaede” invites listeners to run to the dance floor. The intricacy is challenging: one must learn the track in order to know when to stop and start, freeze or flow. “Hana” is heavier on chimes, bells and bass, and does not turn danceable until the second half; even then, its meditative nature is akin to a spiritual retreat. One might draw a line back to IMA’s “Meshes of the Afternoon,” although that project delves in darker timbres.
The snares of “Kirie” imply a marching band, and marching bands once implied war, but here the effect is that of a passing parade. One can imagine step dancers twirling batons, a whistle, a call to respond in turn. When the tempo slows, one can picture pedestrians running across the road and the drummers adjusting. The bass drum finale lifts the energy level to near-euphoria, but then the piece stops. In order to hear the song again, one will need to run parallel to the parade until the sisters cycle through their repertoire. At home, one can wait for “Runa,” whose slower groove and bass underpinning are set against swifter percussion, which arrives in bursts before tapping into double-time. The mid-track shift to sub-bass sparks a requisite response: a drum solo, short but sweet. Sisters, please return soon, we want more of this. (Richard Allen)