RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

CD Feature/ Monno: "Ghosts"

img  Tobias

How on earth some artists manage to keep their essentially borderless atmospheric textures at bay will forever remain a mystery to me. There is something about the drone which makes it want to expand beyond the restrictions of easily digestable formats and converge into the alluring ocean of infinity. Even a band like Monno, who, on all of their first three albums tended towards precision and poignancy, have now succumbed to the seduction of exploring the frayed-out fringes of their compositions instead of remaining within their clearly defined core territory.

While the average track length on predecessor “Error” was still comfortably within reach of a Pop single, “Ghosts” confidently burns the last remaining bridges to the demands of easy digestability. Pieces can now stretch to a quarter of an hour and only the three-minute Noise-Metal white-out of “Hull” and the Horror-soundtrack tremolos of “Troye”, on which Drummer Marc Fantini’s momentously pounding anti-groove takes on Leitmotif qualities, can still be qualified as “songs” – if you discount verse, chorus, vocals and recognisable melodies, that is.

On the rest of the material, the band butter their sandwiches with blood, replenish their thermos with Black-Death whiskey and set out on a trudge through the muddy swamps of sludge, doom and drone. Equally capable of developing the gyrational power of a stoically repeated riff until it develops a mantra-like pull in one moment and confident enough to rely on the field-character of a single, distorted Guitar chord for what seems like forever, Monno draw the listener in with an album which is as insistently immutable on the level of individual tracks as it is remarkably eclectic and open as an entity.

This diversity is much less the result of a broad stylistic outreach than of a highly varied timbral pallette – which is quite obviously the complete opposite of what most of their colleagues are aspiring to. Even though “Ghosts” combines elements from the worlds of Metal and experimental music under a single umbrella, the supposed links to Jazz and Electronica are not as explicit as one might initially be inclined to think. Rather, Gilles Aubry’s “singing laptop” adds welcome choral voices and subtle textural nuances, which seamlessly bleed into the ensemble structure, while Antoine Chessex’ amplified Tenor Sax, at least to these ears, only really comes to the fore on the surreal “Merule”, where long, microtonally displaced brass tones are placed over a gradually intensifying backdrop of drunken ground bass patterns and deliriously swaying percussion.

Monno will please anyone with an inclination towards slow-motion headbanging, but heaviness for its own sake seems to be the last thing on their mind – astoundingly, “Ghosts” works just as well with the volume turned down and while reading Edgar Alla Poe or Kafka in the middle of the night. Even though closer “Endfall” opens with what may be the most depressive section of the entire record, the last six minutes belong exclusively to a Dark Ambient wasteland of eery breaths, frosty winds, foreboding distant melodies and cavernous atmospheres. Somehow, this delayed goodbye seems anything but borderless: Monno may have followed the drone to its outer corners, but they have never lost contact with their soul.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Monno at MySpace
Homepage: Conspiracy Records

Related articles

15 Questions to Christoph Denoth
Christoph Denoth is achieving the ...
CD Feature/ Jakob: "Solace"
Moulding a surgically removed liver: ...
LP Feature/ Jesu & Envy: "Split EP"
Finding a nuanced vocabulary for ...
CD Feature/ MGR: "Wavering On The Cresting Heft"
An ambient soldier, a poet ...

Partner sites