Monday, August 3, 2009

Earthmonkey - Be That Charge (2007)

Earthmonkey is a project by the oddly named Peat Bog, best known for his collaborations with Nurse With Wound. On this release, however, he strays far afield from the avant garde sound collages and eerie soundscapes, tackling instead the trippy, strung out world of Ravers. The difference is that, unlike Rave music, this doesn't suck.

On this two disc set (three discs if you got one of the first 300 copies. I did not.) the listener is assaulted with relentlessly frenetic, out of focus music that drifts between rock, disco, trance, jazz and experimental. The guitars are fuzzy, the vocals are distorted and mixed way back. Everything is designed to feel like a haze of thick smoke and intoxication. The consistently fast tempos and overworked drum machines prevent you from ever really relaxing, though, which makes this an oddity among psychedelic records.

The fact is that the music is unnerving and it's hard not to be slightly on edge when listening to it. Combine that with the sheer length of the album (two hours without the bonus disc) and we're talking a seriously draining experience. For that reason, I don't often listen to this record, but it works well at parties where you want to keep the energy up, or when you're just in one of those moods.

That being said, the whole production is quite impressive, especially given that all the instruments were played by a single man. "Funhouse" is a standout track, with its repeated vocal sample and twelve minutes of Gong-like psychedelia. "Be That Charge" is certainly an interesting record by a talented guy. It just may be a bit much to take in a single sitting.

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