It’s a funny old world. One minute, you’re at Teslacon screaming because Lord Bobbins just announced that the world-famous Professor Elemental will be joining us next year for Teslacon 7 – and then the next minute you’re at home screaming because the Prof himself has agreed to let you review his newest album for your blog – and he’s said some awful kind things about your blog and accomplishments to boot.
I was thrilled to find that Professor Elemental had released a new album – if I owned his previous albums The Indifference Engine and More Tea? on a physical disc, I would undoubtedly have destroyed the discs by now from overplaying them. (Is that still a thing? Do discs get messed up from overuse?) Even more thrilling to me was the title: Apequest. The Prof’s omnipresent but never vocal primate butler has gone missing and it’s up to the Professor to find him… what I didn’t realize is that this quest would also involve one of my favorite things in the entire universe: time travel.
Ohhhhhhhhhh yes, friends. Buckle up because this album is friggin’ awesome.
From the get-go I was stoked to settle in and listen to Apequest – but honestly the storytelling and the time travel element made me even more ecstatic. The Professor would naturally need his Time Travel Trousers to find Geoffrey – but he can’t use them, as Geoffrey is the one who absconded with them accidentally! So out come the Prototype Trousers, the first version of the more successful Time Travel Trousers, and off the Professor goes to find his faithful friend.
The album is one outstanding track after another, following the Professor through time as he searches for Geoffrey and discovers that there is more than just a misplaced monkey afoot. He has littered the lyrics with dazzling rhymes and references to other popular space and time icons and legends, and each track has exquisite sound editing and richly textured orchestrations that fill the imagination and the stage of the mind’s eye to follow the Professor through the various chapters of history (and the future). The Professor heads back to the age of dinosaurs, then forward to the medieval times, the Wild West, the future, even outside time itself for an incredibly funky “The Inn At The End Of Time” (which almost feels like a funky timespace edition of “Love Shack”). The unbelievably well chosen guest artists are additional icing on the cake – reaching “Weird Weird West” and suddenly hearing the extraordinary harmonies of Steam Powered Giraffe oozing through my headphones was like biting into a perfect fluffy cake to discover there’s an unrealistically perfect lemon curd filling hidden inside. And furhermore, Steam Powered Giraffe on this track brings to mind the ghostly Greek chorus of the Haunted Mansion at Disney, i.e. utterly delicious.
Professor Elemental is not just an outstanding rhyme-wizard, but he’s also a marvelous storyteller and a clever, clever nerd. The musical easter eggs are plentiful and rewarding when you notice them – I could be wrong but the sound that signifies the Time Travel Trousers’ transportation sounded a bit like a squealing R2-D2 for a hot second. The future’s flying cabs sound like the Jetson’s car. There’s 8-bit chords in “End of Level Boss.” It’s a smirk-inducing ride of brilliant fun that I’d recommend to any fan of the Professor – and any fan of smart lyrics, good beats, and unusual subject matter.
Pick up Apequest on Professor Elemental’s website and enjoy it for yourself – your ears will thank you!