Monocyte - Review
This solo project was founded by Menton J. Matthews III which released his debut album in 2006 under the title Ganglion
. Six years later we finally have this sophomore release.
Matthews brings his multi-instrumental talents to the forefront with this album with everything from violin, cello and guitar to piano, drums and more. Spanning a dozen tracks we have an eclectic mix of trip hop meets noise and classical music for a very interesting mix that really grows on you the more you listen. Fans of Massive Attack
along with other types of darker, slightly harsh trip hop styles should enjoy this album.
The album starts off with a fairly good intro featuring distorted (think scottish Dalek-like) spoken word and a dark mix of stringed instruments that really set the stage for this album. "Proxy" picks up next and we're off into the mix of broken, stuttered, noise-ridden percussion that hesitantly moves the album along supporting layers of various piano, violins, violas, cellos and various electronic loops. The percussion varies from piece to piece, at times bringing out the harsher sounds like this piece features, while at others mainly just serving to provide a nice rhythm in the trip hop style, though definitely still a solid foundation to each track. Despite the prominent role the percussion has, the various mix of viola, cello and violin are the strongest features of this album and are found on all tracks, sometimes harsh and grating such as with "I Hate You" and others very melodic and smooth as featured on "Hollow". For fans of the more electronica-based trip hop, there are a few tracks that stand out with that solid style such as "They All Do It The Same" which is pretty much all 100% electronic with some old-school scratching accenting the piece here and there.
With this broad range and very eclectic and somewhat rare mix of styles, I'll admit at first this album took a bit to grow on me. Just skimming through samples as I do from time to time when inundated with dozens of review requests, I about passed this one by. As I listened to it more intently and entirely some real gems started to stand out and it has really grown on me. Maybe not 100% of the album, but the vast majority of the tracks are really nice, especially when listened to from start to finish. A few really stand out and have become favorites in their own way, mainly those with some sort of vocals added, though others stand well on their own as well. "If Wishes were Catholics" became a quick favorite with the deeply emotional mix of angst-filled vocals over intense violin and somber piano, all moving along with a nice beat. "The Right of Action" follows quickly as an instrumental piece and is mesmerizing in it's own way. And the aforementioned "They all do it the same" also is a treat with the synthesized choirs soaring over the electronica-based beats and loops. "Hollow" comes along later and is another instrumental that is excellent and mesmerizing, featuring a more melodic approach to the musical mix of the various stringed instruments all gliding smoothly over that somber trip hop beat. However, it's near the end of the album when my definite favorite piece comes out with "Veil". This piece is probably the least experimental of the album, featuring beautiful female vocals, a nice mix of percussion for a somber, yet moving beat all tied together with piano, violin, cello, etc.
So there you have it, very experimental, yet still accessible and fun, definitely enjoyable and something fans of this overall style will really enjoy. Those with the darker, gothic tastes I think will enjoy it slightly more than those into the more pop-sounding electronica music. It definitely has a home here at Gothic Paradise for some time to come.
Label: Art of Fact