More like a sampler than a best-of collection, The Best of Nexus compiles tracks from their first records never-before released on compact disc. The styles that Nexus explores are so disparate that a collection of works from these releases is bound to feel disunified -- and this is the case. Case in point: the disc opens with an experimental improvisation, "Kobina," wild and spacy in its own right, and is followed by two solo ragtime pieces. The shift in feel is akin to the shift from fifth gear to first. Two pieces toward the end of the disc, "Daybreak, an Aubade" and "McSimpton's Annual Boat Excursion to Nanaimo, June 1949," are accompanied by the poetry of Earle Birney. Very nice on their own merits, but painfully uncomfortable when you are not expecting them. These dynamic shifts in tone disrupt what would otherwise be an enjoyable record featuring spectacular playing by a premiere percussion ensemble. The best-recorded experience of this group comes from listening to one of their well-crafted releases. Highlights include John Cage's "3rd Construction" and Nexus' own composition, "The Birds," both from the Changes record. ~ Mark W. B. Allender
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