The Nerve Institute – Architects Of Flesh Density

Much like Toby Driver’s maudlin of the Well, The Nerve Institute is a project that makes surreal and dense, yet quaint, charming music. A one man ordeal from Mike Judge (presumably not the one of Beavis And Butthead fame), I am glad to have come across an album from a new artist that doesn’t give itself all up at once. As the name may suggest, ‘Architects Of Flesh Density’ is a strange album with unexpected turns, verging on the avant- garde, yet drawing enough conventional flair to keep people from losing their minds. The album may be difficult to explain all in one review, but I’ll try.

To set up a foundation of this project’s sound, this is a largely keyboards driven album, although everything from guitars to violins and saxophones pop in at one point or another. Also prevalent is the voice of Judge himself, sounding alot like Neal Morse, formerly of Spock’s Beard. With this baseline binding the songs together, the songs each have their own twists to make them distinct. A fair example of this would be on the album’s second song, ‘Prussian Blue Persuasion’, in which an exotic violin is used to give the music an extra spice. Instrumentally, Judge’s forte is with the keyboards, and I may be inclined to say it sounds like he has a background in jazz music from the way he plays.

The music could be well labelled as eclectic avant-rock, although Judge’s vocals lend a much more accessible vibe to the music. As I have said, his voice is very similar to that of Neal Morse; warm, not technically accomplished yet melodic and personable. In a way, this contrasts the instrumentation, which is not all that melodic, and would be called ‘weird’ any day before being melodic and intimate. The album does take several listens to digest, and if anything can be said for The Nerve Institute, it’s that Mike Judge put in much time and effort into making the album as good as it could be. This is highly inventive music, although I do get the impression that The Nerve Institute’s music gets a little too detached for its own good, wandering off into space without much regard for the listener. Of course, this meandering feeling (that gets emphasized towards the second half of the album) offers a surreal vibe to the album that compliments it, as far as its atmosphere is concerned.

Details aside, ‘Architects Of Flesh Density’ is a strange album from a strange project.

Tracklist:

1. Horror Vacui (8:02)
2. Prussian Blue Persuasion (10:15)
3. Tooth & Flea Korowód
4. Die neue Moritat … (1:41)
5. « La jalousie » (7:56)
6. Hadassah Esther Cruciform (8:23)
7. Bande magnétique … at the Ossuary (12:10)

Line-up:

* M. Judge – electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, drums, percussion, piano, Rhodes electric piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, organ, synthesizers, Mellotron, banjo, mandolin, bowed strings, thumb piano, scrap metal, tin cans, tenor saxophone, vocals, tape loops, electronics, digital manipulation. Composed, performed, and recorded by M. Judge.

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