MONOTROPE – Unifying Receiver (New Atlantis Records)
Classical music and other forms of music lends itself to being instrumental. No one wants to listen to Beethoven with vocals. One needs to get lost in the ups, downs, and nuances of the delivery and actually feel the music. The same can’t always be said for instrumental punk/metal. Very few bands can pull it off. It usually entails the same riff being played for 10 minutes straight, or a contest between all the musicians involved as to who is the most proficient at their instrument. At it’s best (Russian Circles, Expo ’70, Pelican, ISIS, Karma to Burn) it takes the listener on a journey and at it’s worst (pretty much any other band besides the previously mentioned) it leaves the listener wanting more. This brings us to Monotrope, a band that plays a mix of Don Caballero and Russian Circles with a pinch of noise rock to give us a release worthy of repeat listens.
Monotrope members are spread wide across the USA, representing California, Texas, Ohio, and Maryland. Guitarist Ed Ricart, known from bands such as Hyrrokkin and Matta Gawa, is owner of New Atlantis Records, the label handling the Unifying Receiver release, whose catalog boasts an awesome range of acts from the experimental fringes of jazz, rock, and noise. Bassist Matthew Taylor is a member of Bellini, alongside Girls Against Boys drummer Alexis Fleisig, and worked for years as art director for Touch & Go Records, designing iconic album layouts for the label’s revered roster of bands. It’s clear to see these fellas have a ton of experience between then and it shows in the tunes.
The past influences shows in these 6 songs. It will take a few listens but given the length of this piece of work, it’s easy to get through it a few times as the ear worms slowly sink in. The production on this (thanks to the mix of Tim Green (Melvins, Sleater-Kinney) and the mastering of Carl Staff (Unsane, Big Business) make this a nice big fat slab of heavy that you’ll want to play at maximum volume.
There’s nothing new here but that is a good thing. Why mess with a tried and true formula? Solid instrumental tunes played by vets in the game. If you need one noise rock album this year, this is the one.