ROGUE SOUNDS: Eden Mononym and the Album of the Month Club
The Rogue Valley Messenger hasn’t yet been around long enough to make it onto all the industry mailing lists, burying us in a deluge of review-copies of albums by new side projects from the former bassists of the bands that sprung from the ashes of highly-influential underground acts you’ve never heard of. Or for the local scene to consistently think to to send us copies of their new works for this column for that matter.
Consequently, we do a lot of googling to find new local albums.
A recent search found us Acacia, released in late April by Medford-based electronic wunderkind, Eden Mononym. Into the coverage-planning spreadsheet it went.
So imagine our surprise when by the time we were ready to write this review, Eden Mononym had already put out two more albums on top of Acacia; Particle Velocity Journal 2015-א, and 夏 (the Chinese character for Summer).
All three take similar tachs; instrumental synth and noise wonkery. Those thinking electronic music is all about beats and dancing will be sorely disappointed. The sprawling tracks are more score than single, with focus on texture over melody and pace over tempo. The songs are often noisy or jarring and the genre (glitch) is definitely to taste (For the record: we think it’s tasty). But when it’s on, it’s on.
The first track on Acacia is somewhat ambient, with echoey clicks for a rhythm, like an ambient or trip-hop track.
The second is slightly more dischordant with a filtered bassline and a steady thump on the kick. There is a light melody from a plinky, Asian-sounding synth.
Third track is a series of somewhat abrasive oscillators like bells run through a distortion pedal. They start slow and then speed up.
It continues as such.
“Emoth” is an especially strong track, with a moody 8-bit melody over a synth that sounds like a groan of genuine anguish for a moody track. This may be way meta, but it reminded this critic of some of the stellar soundtrack to the cinematic sequences in the original Ninja Gaiden for N.E.S., which, I assure you, is high praise.
But about halfway through it gets noisier and more abstract. “Waveshepheard,” is a pretty irritating track that sounds almost like a slowly-filtered dialtone stretched to the length of a song. But “Click 2 Click,” is a unusual track that sounds somewhere between a manual typewriter and an 808.
夏 starts with a thumping drone like a helicopter blade and a filter slowly sweeping buzz into the pounding tone. The second track is similar. If this is, as it claims, summer music, this is a soundtrack for a summer spent slowly going bananas.
The final track on 夏 is an austere heartbeat kick, with occasional chirps of glitch noise on top.
Oftentimes, electronic music of this sort isn’t “composed,” in the strictest sense. It is a medium that lends itself well to free-form improvisation or using a single loop or sound as an anchor around which to build a song. That’s why three albums in three months can happen. And if you’re into glitch, psychedelia and noise, these are three good ‘uns. But the casual listener interested in electronic music would probably prefer a slightly more curated compilation of Eden Mononym’s work. Either way, they’ll end up engaged.
Southern Oregon musicians can send their recently-released albums to firstname.lastname@example.org, or 46 N. Front St., #200, Medford OR 9750.