Sunday, 18 March 2018

MONKS OF DOOM - THE BRONTË PIN (Pitch-A-Tent Records CD).

Spinning off from Camper Van Beethoven’s weird orbit, Victor Krummenacher, Greg Lisher, Chris Pedersen and David Immerglück, collectively known as the Art/Psych/Prog band Monks of Doom, have been intermittently releasing strange and beautiful records since 1986. Seen as a opportunity to go beyond Camper’s brand of Folk Rock and Sixties influenced Pop Psych and deep into the type of diverse experimental music played by kindred spirits Henry Cow, Snakefinger, King Crimson, Richard Thompson, Fred Frith and a host of other iconoclastic artists, Monks Of Doom have built a small but very impressive discography over the years with their last LP, the covers collection What’s Left For Kicks?, seen as a career spanning collection of recordings interpreting some of the bands most obvious and most obscure influences. The typically diverse selection of artists represented included Neu!, The Kinks, Rahssahn Roland Kirk, Nino Rota, Wire, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Steve Hillage, and Roy Harper among others……………a bizarre blend of influences/inspirations that seems to perfectly encapsulate the Monks’ own unique sound. Due for release next weekend, the new Monks Of Doom album, The Brontë Pin, simply picks up where they left off in 2005 with their album of covers with more spontaneous forays into the worlds of improvised music, adventurous instrumental work, dystopian paranoia and mind melting psychedelia and bar an excellent cover of Sandy Denny’s ‘John The Gun’, it’s their first album of all new material since 1993’s Forgery.

Slowly evolving from studio sessions starting way back in 2009, The Brontë Pin highlights both the bands improvisational skills with dynamic instrumental passages and their more concise songwriting talents where Bert Jansch and Richard Thompson are imaginatively channeled. Mixing together swirling Psychedelia and Prog Rock with more gentle Folk Rock influences just for starters, the album is by measures more aggressive and more laid back than previous recordings, continuing in the grand tradition of this exceptional yet reclusive group of musicians, melding myriad influences into a virtuosity hard to define in the world of current music. Opening with the swirl of ‘The Brontë Pin pt. 1’, Monks Of Doom take the scenic route from A to B (no doubt going via L, S and D along the way) though 12 brilliant tracks gloriously twisting and turning through Psych/Prog and Acid Folk while occasionally taking imaginative detours into Eastern flavoured psychedelia (with the mind blowing ‘Duat! Duat!’) and supercharged Post Punk. Steeped in the culture of Acid Rock experimentation/improvisation, the Monks mix hazy West Coast Cosmic jams with more complex Prog Rock structures as instrumental tracks spin off in tangents but always economical and measured, never self indulgent. The massive influence of late 60s/early 70s British Folk Rock is more than evident on the stunning ‘Boar's Head’ which infuses the Folk tradition with weird electronica, ‘Osiris Rising’ which sounds like a long lost Richard Thompson track and the aforementioned Sandy Denny song. As with What’s Left For Kicks?, Monks Of Doom have incorporated their assortment of 60s, 70s and 80s influences and their very cool taste in tunes into an album that defies any sort of categorization, however with The Brontë Pin the range of material is wider, and the abilities of the band seem so much more accomplished than before. For fans of early Island Records releases, “Classic” Rock/Prog, seminal 60s/70s Cult underground music and innovative/more experimental 1980’s Post Punk bands this is well worth your time. One of this year’s essential records.

Due for release via Pitch-A-Tent Records on 23/03/2018, The Brontë Pin is available on CD from all good record stores, the usual suspects on line or direct from Monks Of Doom here…… http://www.monksofdoom.com/music.

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