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The Nerve Institute - 2015 - "Fictions"

(65:03, Altrock Records)


1.  The Confidence-Man 6:12
2.  City of Narrows 6:23
3.  Kniver of Winters / Coronation Days 7:22
4.  Whistling Wire 4:38
5.  Knives of Summer 10:19
6.  Rayuela 4:42
7.  With Joy We Espy the Sarcophagus 6:21
8.  Grimoire 3.34
9.  Abrazo y Caminando 4:11
10. Docile Bodies / In the Leprosarium 11:22


Mike Judge  vocals; instruments
Jacob Holm Lupo (of White Willow)  guitars; keyboards

Prolusion. The US project THE NERVE INSTITUTE is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Michael S. Judge, formed in 2011 as the moniker for his musical endeavors, and he released his debut album "Architects of Flesh-Density" the same year. "Fictions" is the second album to be issued under this band name, and was released by the Italian label Altrock Records in 2015.

Analysis. For those with a deep, extensive and detailed knowledge of current progressive rock, this album will not be a new one. The album is, in fact, quite a few years old at this time, and was originally released under the artist moniker Sinthome back in 2010, at that time named "Ficciones". This 2015 is a bit more than a reissue under a different name however, with the remastering by Udi Koomran most likely a good selling point for the chosen few who bought this album first time around. The songs are the same though, so this isn't a reissue that has been pampered with an additional track or two to try to tempt previous buyers into purchasing it a second time around. In terms of the music itself, this is most certainly among the more accomplished one-man bands-projects I have come across. The recording quality is excellent, with Koomran's touch applied as well, this is a production that sports a gorgeous sound throughout in fact, and in terms of style this is a case of what many would describe as retro-oriented progressive rock, I guess, albeit of a kind and nature that aren't easily pigeonholed into any specific subdivision. Layered plucked guitars are a central feature in most compositions, with both acoustic and electric guitars utilized for this role. With a steady ongoing bass and an elegant, firm, wandering type of drum pattern that adds a strong identity to the material, even when the compositions start venturing out from the earlier, rather nondescript foundation. Which doesn't take all that long, as Judge appears to be rather fond of psychedelic instrumental details that soon flavor these compositions by way of vintage riff-based effects, elegant or more psych-drenched guitar soloing, as well as the sounds from the good, old Mellotron. Not quite purebred psychedelic progressive rock, but with a liberal amount of distinct instrumental details adding that touch to the material. As the album unfolds, it also becomes clear that Judge has an ear for careful symphonic details, and further on he ventures into Canterbury-oriented escapades too, with and without the slight additional touch of the aforementioned psychedelic details. A simpler and what I'd describe as somewhat more angular folk-oriented creation has its place in here too, with some nice Spanish guitar passages thrown in for good measure, and then concluding epic Docile Bodies / In the Leprosarium ends this production with a multifaceted affair that has nods in the direction of both Symphonic Progressive and Canterbury, with a more distinctly jazz rock-inspired passage midways and a concluding phase of warm, hazy psychedelic sounds. That some of the compositions feature textured instrument details, reminding ever so slightly of post-rock, is probably also a detail worth mentioning, so while this is a production that, by and large, comes across as one sporting material with a vintage sound and style, it isn't one that excludes details of a more contemporary nature when those suit the arrangements made and explored.

Conclusion. The Nerve Institute's second official album, that, in truth, is a reissued and remastered version of the first album by the project that later would be renamed The Nerve Institute, comes across as a warm, smooth, but also elegant and sophisticated take on vintage progressive rock of the accessible kind, with nods to symphonic, psychedelic, Canterbury and jazz rock, incorporated into an appealing sonic blend. Those with a general taste for vintage sounding progressive rock might want to inspect this album, and in particular those who enjoy music of that kind that doesn't stay put within a specified subset of progressive rock.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: September 20, 2015
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Altrock Records
The Nerve Institute


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