I love vinyl. There is something about it, lifting the needle and placing it down on a record seems real. That slight crackle of the run on groove, that wonderful analogue warmth that breathes from the speakers, the music’s cold hard digital heart taken away. So it was nice to be sent a real piece of proper lovely vinyl to review from a band local to me, Metamono.The band operates under a ‘no digital’ manifesto that automatically gets my vote. These type of band manifestos reminds me of artists during the post-punk period that set themselves various conditions that as the years went by they could not work under anymore (Psychic TV springs to mind here), but I see no such problem affecting Metamono’s output as there are at least a good twenty years and more of instruments they could potentially use for their compositions.
“Uplink” starts side one and is all jittery pulse rhythms, as if some Russian kosmonaut had decided to invent Kraftwerk whilst orbiting the moon. The wonderful handclap sounds remind me of Travelogue era Human League trying to play the soundtrack to Forbidden Planet. “Linger Langour” has deep throbbing bass over scatter drums and tape samples. Here we are hitting The Orb territory in the sense of feel, but the sound has Metamono stamped all over it. I love the wailing synth lead at one point. The track feels bright bouncing and light and drifts airily around. “Rare Earth’s Rush” moves us on to a slightly harder electronic sound that mixes elements of space disco with Krautrock to produce something that feels quite jaunty, as what sounds like a Korg MS20 splutters and swirls underneath a great hook line lead. “Plums and Custard” has more the feel of an acid house track that got lost somewhere via a Bescombes and Rizet piece as it stutters along and heads out of your head.Side two begins with “Blessed Space,” an ambient trip out into the nether regions of the universe where synths chime as if creating a new soundtrack for Solaris. Here and there the sounds run parallel to contemporary artists such as Steve Moore. “Construct,” with its wonderfully warm bottom end synth walks straight out of Eno’s late ’70s output as its echo feels the air, trying to build a cold anodyne world – but instead you experience a strange warmth amongst its steady rhythms that remind me of Japan’s “The Experience of Swimming” at points. “La Grande Peur” sees Metamono turn partly into Der Mensch Machine on a bike ride to the outer regions as its sequencer rhythms and patterns start running breathless in to the cosmos.
“Slippery Jack” announces side three with glitchy rhythms borrowed from a Martian invasion of Earth film from the ’50s and reinvented by Metamono’s arsenal of equipment into a dance of mental illness for the planet’s survivors. “Deuce and Trynotism” has a big dance floor beat to which Metamono add Dada chords and surreal sounds over the top. Sometimes it crashes like Einstürzende Neubauten, at others it raves like you were at a psy-dance festival. Its beat is catchy enough to have you tapping your foot and moving awkwardly to its pulse with hands raised towards the air.“The Constant” shouts in the beginning of side four, with some urgent synth stabs that get quickly overhauled by its tabla-style beat. Ring tones affect the overall rhythm and give it the sound of construction on an Indian junk yard as the track falls to pieces and re-assembles itself. “Glowfade”’s staccato beats and drifting ambient synth seem at odds with each other, but perfect bedfellows at the same time. Part of the synth sound could have been lifted from an old Commodore 64 game, but this adds to the track’s charm and gives a bold sense of experimentation with sounds over the pulsing beats. “Just Real Enough” starts with a drone and a low bass throb under sampled radio voices similar to the way that Holger Czukay has used them in recordings to add a feel of ambience. Here we get more experimental electronics from Metamono as everything is set adrift in a sea of echo, reminding me of Eno and Byrne‘s work. “Funland” has bright electronic stabs over synsonic drum machine patterns and puts me in mind of bands like Severed Heads with its bizarre use of sounds that give a sense of disquiet. “Amillaria Solidipes” has deep drones created over a military style beat that has more in common with some of the work of Throbbing Gristle than any pleasant dance groove as its jarring electronics create an uneasy atmosphere like a spacecraft crashing to earth; this is music to think by, to stimulate the strange part of your brain that punches creativity out.
As a whole the album works remarkably well. Each of its four sides creates its own atmosphere whilst still feeling it’s all part of the larger work. How this would play out on a CD I don’t know, as the joy of discovering each section over the course of the vinyl is part of its pleasure. Metamono have set the bar high for themselves for future recordings as this album demonstrates just how fluid and different electronic music can be when released from the confines of genre and the laziness of sampling artists. A must.