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Metamono – Creative Listening

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Metamono - Creative ListeningCreative Listening is the second album from the South London-based trio, released on lovely vinyl. According to the credits on the back it say it was written and recorded “in strict adherence to the manifesto”, which sounds like something you would see on the back of a Throbbing Gristle or Psychic TV album many years ago. Instead, the manifesto seems to be about the use of electronics and instruments rather than adhering to some type of occultural knowledge that you could find hidden within the record’s grooves. Metamono are all about analogue systems and how these can be utilised to create music in different forms, not in a lilting ambient structure like Eno, but more in the sense of use of rhythm.

“Cloth Ears” has a sparky beat that crosses the boundaries somewhere between trance and industrial. Its major melody flits around like a butterfly over its pounding rhythm; at points it almost feels like Kraftwerk stepped into a studio with The Residents and this is what they came up with. A sampled voiceover makes Dadaist comments and completes the overall oddness of the piece. “Ulga” starts like a kind of lounge music, its sweeping jazzy chords carrying an atmosphere of cruise travelling in the Fifties. The instrumentation is futuristic, but its setting seems retro, like the aural equivalent of watching Thunderbirds. When the track gets to its off-kilter middle section, we seem to get a bit Bowie in his Low era, but this then leads us back into the main melody and we are off drifting again.

Beautiful soft waves of synth scuttle about during the opening of “Cocooned”, which reminds me of Before And After Science Eno. The bass is wonderful (is that a Korg MS10?) and gives a rolling, steady line for the other synths to dance around over the top of. It has the feel of watching the ocean on a lazy summer afternoon; quite beautiful. A heady rhythm introduces “Daddy” that could be a dance track from a robot disco. The swelling of sounds and the scattering of instrumentation give this track a juddering effect that still manages to follow its lead melody line effortlessly. It certainly has more of an early Eighties vibe to it and would sit quite nicely next to some tracks from Travelogue-era Human League in its overall feel.

“Daft Bat” starts with what sounds like a wailing noise before we move into a forward moving pulse beat that has the feel of an engine turning over. Funky synth slaps add to the overall frenetic rhythm as big Tangerine Dream-style arpeggios wander over the top at points. It’s a big squelch of a track that has a fuzzy analogue warmth to it. “Mr Smith” starts with a strolling gait to its bass synth pattern, over which chirps of other sounds meander across its afternoon walk around the city.

“Buddha Drop” has the kind of title that Severed Heads would have been proud of. It starts fairly languidly, with big chords giving a sense of an uncluttered white painted room with the sun streaming through blinds. This starts to become at odds with the other sounds that fight for space overhead. Behind its quiet artistic  artifice there is this underlying chaos that bubbles around until all is silence again. “Birth Of A Flower” starts with a hint at John Foxx’s ambient work until a pulse hits in and an infectious melody leaps over the top of proceedings. There’s a slight sense of early Orb about it, but put through a kind odd filter, so that it could almost be more of a soundtrack than a dance track.

The album has a very different feel than its predecessor, inasmuch as it seems quieter in some respects. Creative Listening has that artists at work vibe about it, rather than a four to the floor dance push. The overall sound seems more lush and more at ease with itself, as if the band are finding out new ways to explore their instruments. In a strange way, Creative Listening is an intimate album, one more for exploring inner worlds than dancing on the edge of outer ones. For this alone it has to be on the list as one of the most interesting, must-have electronic albums of the year. It will be curious to see what direction Metamono head in next.

-Gary Parsons-

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