Irregular Heads by MonumentalsRelease date: February 6, 2018
Taking a break from the gothic psychedelic shenanigans of The Cult Of Dom Keller, an enforced hiatus has resulted in two of the members, Ryan and Neil, getting together to create some weird instrumental soundtracks. Using the opportunity to explore ambient structures, the avant garde and for some of it, Tangerine Dream, their debut release under the moniker of Monumentals is a somewhat beguiling listen.
Not an album for listening to on your daily chores, this is late night music, built to niggle at you in its minimalist way, pervading your mind at those bleak moments when you are half adrift on the night breeze. Out of nowhere comes a jarring sound, a Tom Waitsian symbol of noise to knock your senses just as you hit limbo. It’s no coincidence that they use Alice In Wonderland as their starting point although one suspects that this is more in tune with the Jan Svankmajer surreal version than the Disney one.
As mentioned, TD play an influential part in much of this as the melody of ‘Circadian Oscillator’ suggests. Analogue sounds wheeze out of synths as of they are being pushed for one last time. It’s a human quality that seeps through the electronic elements. Shorn of any psychedelic elements that so filled both CODK music and Cathode Ray Eyes (Ryan’s solo project), it highlights a pair of musicians who feel free to explore avenues they haven’t been able to before. Much of it is slight, and you can feel yourself drifting off at times, but there is always a moment or two within grasp that pulls you around. The way the piano intertwines through the ambience of ‘Codeine Caves’, or the way the pulsating strangeness of ‘Collapse Of The Ghost Regime’ casts a haunting spell over you. These may be made up film soundtracks, but they sure make you want to watch the films.
Whilst this is not an album which you will find yourself visiting much, it’s very nature of mixing such elements of ambience together makes you reach for it as a kind of soothing pill. It’s rather ironic in a way as much of the music is disturbingly creepy. In their hands they make it sound beautiful too. It’s challenging, but that’s what this kind of music needs to be, otherwise it drifts into non-existence or elevator music. It certainly shows that beneath the psych leanings of CODK, lie some rather talented musicians who are simply forging their own path, Why take the easy route when you can do what intrigues and fascinates you? Let’s hope it does the same for music fans, as we need this kind of experimentalism and adventure in music.