The Nanobot Auxiliary Ballet – S/T

You’ve got to be kidding, right? Well, apparently not. Let’s get this band’s awful name out of the way right at the beginning, so that I never have to type it again, and you never again have to read it in its entirety: The Nanobot Auxiliary Ballet and the Museum of Modern Insect Art with the Office of Woodland Security. Yikes. I’d love to dive into all of the intricacies and implications of such a name, but the DOA board of editors strongly advises us to keep reviews under 2000 words. The album title isn’t any better. In fact, it’s worse. So once again, here goes: The Nanobot Auxiliary Ballet and Insect Art with the Office of Woodland and Security Present: Tylenol and Adida the Deadly Ballerina featuring The Chillbot Slider, The Push Button Master, The White Hot Funkbot and maybe Dr. Idiotbot if it Can Make it (but we’re just saying it’s self-titled). Just to make sure that my spellcheck program doesn’t freak out again, we’ll refer to this band and album as NAB and The Nanobot Auxiliary Ballet, respectively.

Good, now that that’s over with, we can move on to, you know the music. Which is, for the most part, fairly good. If you didn’t guess from the opening paragraph that NAB’s members have a special place in their hearts for electronic beats and synthesizers, well, get a damn clue. This album is littered with synthesized noises, excited keyboards, new-wave tones, and dance-heavy beats, which is pretty much par for the course for any band with a predisposed affection for –bot things.

The most successful tracks on this album are instrumental: NAB manage to find some kind of unholy mix of IDM’s randomly placed noisecraft and dancepunk’s straightforward, four-on-the-floor discotheque. “Akshun” opens the album with oscillating scales and a burping bass, and several of the best tracks follow suit: The warm disco hop of “Light Fantastic” and the haunted house synth flare of “In Kode” are masterfully produced, inventive instrumentals.

NAB gets into trouble with the vocals. A mundane, highly affected female voice usually grabs the mic several seconds into the song, talking passively and vaguely about any number of things: “We’ve been recovering from it ever since / We’ve been feeling see-through.” These sorts of blasé, general statements do nothing to make the listener forget the complete lack of melody.

It’s not so much that the vocals are so obtrusive, it’s just that they feel so unnecessary. Without them, there’s not a bad track on the album, but with them, two-thirds of the album feels forced, grating, and ultimately disappointing. NAB has a whole lot of strength to play to – the inventive instrumental soundscapes are both thrillingly cheesy and charmingly retro. Once the androgynous diva shit is dropped, this moniker-heavy band might have a truly great album in it.