Record Review: November 1992
Monks Of Doom
Most of us missed out on the Monks of Doom when they showed up at Spanky’s this month, but luckily, we can get a good dose of the Monks’ musical mastery with their latest release, Forgery.
This is the Monks’ first album on a major label and, happily, they haven’t sold out their terpsichorean principles for popularity.
Forgery opens with a hang with the delightful “Flint Jack,” which plays up all the elements in the band’s considerable repertoire. Victor Krummenacher’s soulful crooning is perfectly complemented by the precise guitars of David Immerglück and Greg Lisher and the pounding, rhythmic drums of Chris Pedersen.
For those unfamiliar with the Monks of Doom, the quartet specializes in very moody, almost improvisational music that appeals to the ear and spirit and focuses on a wide range of thoughtful material. The best example on Forgery is “Virtual Lover,” a number based on the technological advancement known as virtual reality simulation. Surrounded by a wall of achingly perfect acoustic guitars, Krummenacher wails, accompanied by guest vocalist (and ex-Harm Farm drummer) Melanie Clarin.
There are other delights to be discovered on Forgery, such as “What Does a Man Require”, And ”Chaos Is Not Dead” (“inspired by the writings of Hakim Bey,” the liner notes reveal). But a record review cannot describe the feelings that the accomplished Monks create. That must be experienced first-hand and repeated listenings reveal subtle nuances.
Perhaps the only flaws of this album lie in minor points. For example, the Monks eschew the mandolin entirely, and it is missed here. Further, producer Dan Fredman manages to create a hollow sound with Chris Pedersen’s drumming, which detracts from the sound.
But these are all quibbles. For those looking for music with substance, Forgery is the ideal cure. Whether the song is an incredible instrumental or vocal technique, the Monks of Doom excel.
Love Songs From SUB POP
Sub Pop Records
As we all know, love is a fucked-up thing. It can be either the ultimate feeling of happiness, or the most torturous weapon against one’s emotions. And then there is the center of the spectrum. What else would be more appropriate for the middle ground of heart and soul than a twisted collection of “love” songs from the soon-to-be-exploited Sub Pop Records. This isn’t your average compilation of gooey, by-the-fireplace, adult-contemporary bullshit that you see advertised on annoying late-night T.V. ads. No! This is more of a raw, honest definition of what love can do to people. From the poppy “When it All Comes Down,” by Unrest, to the sludge-grunge of Codeine’s “Castle,” the whole album covers everything about the best/worst feelings in the world. You get a beautiful psychedelic melody (“La Dolly Vita”) by Smashing Pumpkins. You get a blunt offering of sex (“Rory Rides Me Raw”) by the Vaselines. There’s your rock-a-bluesy ballad of break-ups (“Where in the Hell Did You Go With My Toothbrush?”) by The Rev. Horton Heat. There’s a song of starting over (“Clean State”) by Seaweed. And to make this album all the more schizophrenic, there’s the twisted innermost thoughts of the disturbed spoken word of Steven “Jesse” Bernstein with his corrupt “This Clouded Heart.” (And I thought Henry Rollins was messed up—this guy is fucked up!).
Though a bit more mellow than your average label release, it’s still a cool collaboration of rarities and b-sides, and more humorous than musical to listen to. Get it so you can laugh at yourself in the midst of your next interlude of romantic torment.
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