Nexus Monkey - Project: Albert, Codename: Nexus Monkey [Forever Escaping Boredom - 2014]Nexus Monkey is the (relatively) new project of Hal Harmon (Vasectomy Party) and Zachary Short (Black Beast of Arrrghhh) of Florida noise fame. Project: Albert is the first part of a trilogy (!!!) about the first monkey sent to space in 1948. This approach is fun and refreshing, as the noise scene tends to be a bit serious. Project: Albert plays almost like a radio drama over noise instead of over dramatic music and bad foley effects.
Concept albums are great and very accessible with experimental music. They're a bit troublesome, though, when they stick too rigidly to the concept and leave less to interpretation. Seeing two discs worth of titles let me know I'd have my hand held through this ride, so I was a little bummed. However, the opening track helped to change my mind. Project: Albert starts off with a kid reading and introduction over old timey, patriotic drums (I don't know what the style is called). The reading must have been done in one take, and all mistakes are left in. It's enough to let you know that you shouldn't take this album too seriously and enjoy the ride. That's not to say that the album is a joke, though. Keep it lighthearted and enjoy some pretty nice, spacey noise. "Mission Control Loses Total Control" has some more vocal exposition and opens up the noise gates. The deep rumbling of rocket engines and the whine of machinery fighting against the pressures of gravity take hold and one feels as if they're on the rocket with Albert. This track covers the gambit from harsh crushing distortion to sparse, soft, spacey echoes. Not only is it the longest track on the album, it may be the most important, sonically. This and the following track, "A Casual Trip Thru the Einstein-Rosen Bridge," set the scene before more voiceovers and computers start to play their parts. The looped synth tones and robotic door locking of "I'm Sorry Albert, I'm Afraid I Can't Do That" remind one of 2001, HAL, and other deep space sci-fi films. "Orbiting Omega Prime" is the next noise boost, and is very welcome. The delayed tones, beeps, and alarm like sounds add some much needed dimension to the distorted buzz that makes up the main layer. The rest of the album plays out more calmly with a lot of exposition and the occasional awkward synth beat before the closing narration of "The Aftermath."
Project: Albert is a fun noise record. It's a tad long and heavy handed (to me), but it's definitely an enjoyable listen. At it's noisiest, it's never too harsh and at it's softest, it never loses the listener in sparseness. I'm definitely looking forward to the second installment.Paul Casey