Sunday, August 12, 2018

Chocolate Monk

Moth - Scintilla
Chocolate Monk. Choc.408
CDR. 75 copies.

Jonnie Prey - Life on Bob-Lo Island
Chocolate Monk. Choc.407
CDR. 75 copies.

The Negative Kite - Gone all to the Down
Chocolate Monk. Choc.405
CDR. 75 copies.

Sick Llama - Snake Code
Chocolate Monk. Choc.404
CDR. 75 copies.

Amanda R. Howland - Mona Cost Returns to Canton
Chocolate Monk. Choc.402
CDR. 60 copies.

Psychonic Imaging - Time Vaccine
Chocolate Monk. Choc.400
CDR. 60 copies.

The Chocolate Monk 25th Anniversary Fest Love-in at Cafe Oto last week was described on the Oto website as being ‘two evenings of sound and chunder crunk’. I wish I could have been there. Not only because I’m quite partial to a bit of chunder crunk [I’ll let you in on a secret, its my favourite musical genre] but because I’m also a big fan of sound, my second favourite musical genre. I really like sound. It makes me go all funny in the same way six pints of Guinness or a mini earthquake does.

I’m being a little disingenuous here. Trying to capture the world that is Chocolate Monk in a punchy sentence to sell gig tickets is like describing James Joyce in words of one syllable. There’s not much point.

I listened to all six of these Chocolate Monkers in a one-er. It can be done and you can gain great pleasure from doing so. I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint of heart or those with the attention span of a hyperactive ten year old but for someone of advancing years who likes both sound and chunder crunk it can certainly improve your day. As an aid to finishing off the Guardian Saturday crosser it proved invaluable. Total immersion in Chocolate Monk World also gives you the opportunity to experience what it feels like to live in a velvet curtained dusty room where things of an indeterminate gravity and shape move slowly of their own volition bumping in to moldy furniture while falling through the rotten floorboards taking the damp Axminster with them. Its that kind of world. Hard to describe.

These are not so much musical releases portals into another sound world where musical parameters are of no use to you, where sounds, those lovely sounds that we all love and cherish, take forms that shift and morph and shape and leave you feeling bewildered. The untutored listener with no signpost as where to go next gives up and goes back to scratching his plaid clad armpits while pondering which beard oil to buy next. Except you go to the next ChocoMonk release of course. There’s hundreds to choose from and they’re not exactly expensive and if you’re lucky they’ll have some Karen Constance artwork on them too. This latest batch have seen a boost in the print quality, with paper sleeves replaced by fold out printed card. More colour, more weirdness, more sound, more chunder crunk.

If I was to tell you that I found little to upset the stomach during this nigh on five hours worth of aural delight I wouldn’t be lying. I enjoyed them all and thats no lie your Honour. If I had to pick a favourite it would be Negative Kite because it sounds like nothing else I’ve heard in a while which is what Chocolate Monk are good at. A single forty odd minute track of uncategorizeable sounds as recorded by a deep sea diver with lead boots and a shortwave radio in his helmet. Underwater omm-ing of the highest order. A thousand empty crisp packets crumpled through a thousand filters. A steam engine starting up as heard through a pinhole in a cardboard wall an inch thick. A collection of crumbling sounds the origins of which lay buried in black silt a foot thick. Drones of a sort but dirty greasy ones, ones that settle on your skin like a filthy polluting layer.   

Sick Llamas are in similar territory with four disjointed, blaring elbow sharp drones of glitching, jarring, jitter noise. Jonnie Prey too in parts with thirty minutes worth of roller coaster field recordings, barking dogs and drinking straw noise, somewhere therein lies buried the theme music to Appointment With Fear, the end result being the preferred take on the Jeff Bridges going to sleep album. Is Jonnie Prey his real name? Do we care? Is Amanda R. Howland a real name? It sounds more plausible. Described on the ChocoMonkeycruncher website as ‘euphoric earshred’ and as by me as ‘all fingers, wrist and forearm on the keyboard noise’ or the theme from Zelda melted on to an early Whitehouse record. There’s some LAFMS contribution to Pyschonic Imaging in the shape of Tim Alexander who’s here to collaborate with Cody Brant in a series of short tracks [22 in all] that encompass 8-bit video game clunk as seen through the coloured plastic bits as found in the bottom of a kaleidoscope. Reverse tape, background chatter and metal scrape improv are the soup de jour with track 21 ‘Five Dimension Fly’ [they all have titles] sounding like someone trying to escape from their recently interred coffin. Alexander is also Moth which is all space bloops and synth swirls, Moomin music and crackle box boogie, a glockenspiel on speed, an off its tits zither, drifting synth sounds for mother and rabies.

It must be something in the south coast air that does it for them. All them vegan burger pop-up caravans and mountains of salad. I can think of no other explanation. It matters not. Crunk me baby.

Chocolate Monk

No comments: