Archive for the ‘New Artist’ Category

M. Judge – Architects of Flesh-Density

June 14, 2011

The Nerve Institute (M. Judge) – Architects of Flesh-Density

I must say, I’ve gotten to the point where I yawn (or grimace) at the receipt of a promo pack from some record labels. I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten a bad album from anyone, but there’s an awful lot of also-rans out there, and I just have too many albums to be spending a lot of personal energy on them. One label for which this is not the case, however, is the AltrOck label from Italy, which consistently delivers outstanding CD’s from incredible groups and artists. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything from the label that wasn’t really good, and most of them go well beyond that and into “superb”.

In my last AltrOck mailing, I received a CD from a band called The Nerve Institute. I was amazed to see that the first “reference band” they were compared to was The Underground Railroad. Hey, I know and love these guys, they’re from my area (Dallas/Fort Worth), but I’ve never seen them named as a “reference band” before. So I was really interested to give a listen to this CD.

The first thing I’ll say about Architects of Flesh-Density is, “WOW!” This is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. The comparison to Underground Railroad is pretty fair, but Architects of Flesh-Density is more experimental, and goes into more avant-garde/RIO territory than UR. At the risk of sounding glib, I’ll say that, “If Bill Pohl liked Fred Frith as much as he likes Allan Holdsworth, then The Nerve Institute would sound like Underground Railroad.” Helpful if you know all these references, useless if you don’t.

So, if you don’t, I’ll just describe it as symphonic with strange but beautiful harmonies, jagged rhythms, and a high level of virtuosity on all the instruments. The musical parts stray toward dissonance, then resolve into quite beautiful harmonious sections. It’s also punctuated by innovative sound effects and artfully-used noises and studio sound-warping. The sections are tightly integrated and the music is skillfully composed and recorded with utmost attention to detail and clarity. All this is made even more impressive by the fact that it’s all composed, played and recorded by one guy named M. Judge, and the “studio” consists of a laptop where the music is “edited/EQd/compressed in whatever freeware music program I happen to be using.” What’s the “M” for? A careful search of the links will reveal it, but since he always seems to introduce himself as only “M” I’ll just stick with that.

Mr. Judge has stated in an interview that he gets tired of band names, and so has released works under several other monickers, including The Wolf Tickets, Jerusalem and Sinthome. The only other Judge I’ve been able to find available is the second Sinthome album, Ficciones, still available on the ReR label. It’s very different from The Nerve Institute, and from what I’ve read, Judge delights in changing what he does from one album to the next. In fact, he’s said, “My goal with any upcoming album is really to scare the hell out of myself and anyone else who liked the previous one.” He goes on to say, however, that he may record more under The Nerve Institute name. I’m hoping this means more along the same lines, because one CD of this brilliance just isn’t enough. I do hope to hear more. My highest recommendation! — Fred Trafton

Click here for M. Judge‘s MySpace page
Click here to download Ficciones from ReR USA
Click here to order Architects of Flesh-Density from AltrOck Records
Click here for an interview with M. Judge for Prog Archives

Declan Burke – Destroy All Monsters

April 22, 2011

Declan “Dec” Burke is a guitarist, singer and songwriter. He was one of the leaders of the English neoprog band Darwin’s Radio before becoming a part of prog “supergroup” Frost*. Darwin’s Radio dissolved with the individual members going on to do their own things, and Dec Burke‘s “own thing” was to begin a solo career with the release of his debut Destroy All Monsters.

Even Burke‘s web site calls Destroy All Monsters “a more pop take on the prog genre”, so I suppose he won’t be offended if I agree. To be more specific, this is an album of heavily orchestrated rock anthems and metal ballads calibrated to make your head bob and … well, I suppose people don’t wave lighters in the air any more, but you get the idea. The sound is thick, sizzling with high-end EQ, massively overdubbed and heavily compressed to gargantuan fatness. It sounds cool for a while, but my ears start to weary of the sameness of the production after the first couple of songs. And, after multiple listenings, I find there’s not much I didn’t get on the first listen. Not that it’s a bad album for all that, but it also doesn’t really stand out in my mind, at least not for my tastes. A qualified “thumbs up” if you like your prog on the “easy” side.

On the other hand, if you like this sort of thing (and I know many people do), Burke is just putting the finishing touches on a follow-up album, Paradigms & Storylines, slated for release sometime this summer (2011). Keep on the lookout. — Fred Trafton

Click here for Dec Burke‘s web site
Click here to order Destroy All Monsters from ProgRock Records