The Nerve Institute is the name which the American multi-instrumentalist Mike Judge uses to release is music. Well it is in fact not the first pseudonym he used to get his music released. In the past, he already made music under the monikers The Wolf Tickets, Jerusalem, and Sinthome. As The Nerve Institute he made his debut in 2011 with Architects Of Flesh-Density. One year earlier he released (as a digital download) the album Ficciones under the pseudonym Sinthome. Now exactly five years later the same album has been released on CD. However, this time around it got the title Fictions and is the second official release of The Nerve Institute.
Mike Judge does on this album virtually everything on his own by playing guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, mandolin and also contributes on vocals, which he does very well. Only on two of the tracks, there is some support from Jacob Holm-Lupo (White Willow) on additional guitar and keyboards. The music here is quite different from the music published four years ago on Architects Of Flesh-Density. The jazz influence can here be heard much less in the overall sound, although not completely gone. A good piece of jazz-rock is still included on this fine album. The progressive rock and Canterbury influences shine more on this release. To compare his compositions with other artists in the same musical genre was not an easy job for me. However I'll have to admit that certain parts on this album had references with the early stuff from Porcupine Tree. I guess a good example is the track Whistling Wire. A name that came to mind as well are The Tangent. A good example of their possible influence can be heard on With Joy We Espy The Sarcophagus and Grimoire. Most of all the Canterbury influences in The Tangent come from time to time on those pieces of music to the surface. Besides the already mentioned possible influences taken from progressive rock and Canterbury, Mike has a love for not so common folk-like musical styles. Just listen to the tracks Knives Of Summer and Rayuela and you will discover fine flamenco/ Latin kind of parts performed on acoustic guitars and several percussion instruments. This almost one hour long album features ten tracks which are all worth listening to and therefore I couldn't point out at any certain favourites. So, complements for the writings of Mr. Judge are in place!
Although the album was released earlier as a download, I still could enjoy Fictions as if it were a release coming out for the first time. The album has so many musical surprises in store which you don't hear that often on a progressive rock album. I was entertained the whole way through. The different styles (progressive rock, jazz rock, folk, Canterbury) used are very well blended. Fictions is most of all an album for those who want to get away from the progressive rock clichés which you hear on most albums in the genre. Bravo to Mike Judge for doing -most of the time-everything on his own on this excellent sounding album made by The Nerve Institute!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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