Sweden - Full Moon 236 - 11/25/15
A Glimpse Of Possible Endings
Necromonkey is the name of the relatively new duo of drummer Mattias Olsson (ex-Änglagard, Pineforest Crunch and several others) and keyboardist David Lundberg (Gösta Berlings Saga). They have both solid background from Swedish progressive rock of the 1990s (Mattias) and the 2000s (David). A Glimpse Of Possible Endings is their second studio album, released on CD last year. Now the time has come for a very limited vinyl edition, only 400 copies, half of them on orange and gold coloured vinyl, on the Norwegian Pancromatic label. Whereas the duo's debut album Necroplex from 2013 had many and quite short instrumentals, the second only includes five tracks, the longest about 15 and a half minutes. It's still instrumental music we're dealing with.
The record company says that the band blends elements of techno, space, avant-rock, alt-rock, symphonic rock and lounge jazz, 'along with a unique perspective that only these musicians can bring to the table'. I guess some of the genres mentioned fit better with the debut album than the follow-up. The progressive roots of these musicians cannot be hidden, especially in the longer compositions here, but sure there are many other elements involved, too. The shortest of the lot, "The Counterfeit Pedestrian", only two point five minutes, is dominated by a repetitive grand piano. It sounds like the beginning of a much longer work, the start of something exciting, but instead it finishes with the foreplay. To some extent the same goes for "'There Seem To Be Knifestains In Your Blood'". It's a guitar dominated instrumental, with a bit of twang, spiced with nice keyboard details, particularly the fascinating Mellotron pizzicato strings. The second half includes a great interplay between a Theremin hovering high in the air and an energetic cello, augmented by electric sitar and all. It's pleasant, but drifts away before it really should.
Pleasant is the word that spring to mind concerning "The Sheltering Waters", too. It starts slow and quiet, instrumental guitar ballad stuff, sort of (if a ballad can be instrumental),
melancholic and a bit resigned. A piano interlude midway through, reminds me of the playing by the late Richard Wright of Pink Floyd. Very nice! The synths then turn the mood in a more ominous direction for a little while, before everything is soothed out in perfect synth and guitar harmony towards the end. But the really juicy bits are yet to come. The guitar-less "The Worst Is Behind Us" is a bit oriental sounding. Vangelis' possibly most beautiful album China springs to mind. With bass synth and high pitched synth in harmonic community apart from a distorted break. Eventually lots of Mellotrons gradually take command without sounding too pompous. Spine chilling!
And finally the longest and best offering here, "(A) Glimpse (Of Possible Endings)". The quiet start includes glockenspiel, synth and Mellotron, before it turns sharp left towards avant-rock
with great drive, a RIO-kind of repetitive theme with detours, bass clarinet, cello, oboe, fuzz guitar, drums, melodic piano and synth. There are more changes in both moods, instrumentation and time signatures: a couple of mighty symphonic-pompous moments, mainly due to the use of pipe organ and Mellotrons, though not too much and only for a few seconds on the verge of being too pompous, and quiet parts including a short classical chamber interlude and an exotic funny marimba part. And lots more. "Glimpse" sounds more profound compared to the other tracks, and more in the traditional progressive vein. But with several non-traditional progressive elements as well. A gem!
The inside of the cover boasts a horde of different instruments being played on the album, including curiosities like the aforementioned Mellotron pizzicato strings and Theremin. There's
also Mellotron with other tapes like eight voice choir and string section, Chamberlin, metal clarinet, persephone and optigan (whatever they may be), stylophone, musical saw, melodica, drum machines, teaspoon and gong, to name some. The musical contents, though, is luckily not of the boasting progressive rock kind. It's the music and moods that counts, not the exposure of the individuals' musical abilities. And it's to some extent true to the original meaning of progressive, in the sense that it don't follow trodden paths of other bands and artists from the past for longer periods. I enjoy this album. It's a grower and I'm curious to seek out the remaining output by the duo. The vinyl version can be ordered from Panorama Records, headquarters of the Pancromatic, Panorama and Tatra labels. Necromonkey's third studio album Show Me Where It Hertz has just been released on CD by the band's own Roth Händle Recordings label. There's also a limited live album, Live At Pianos, NYC from 2014. Now I only wonder what the band name is about. The music seems to have as little to do with death as apes.
Copyright © 2015 JP