Ex Voto- A Melodic Musical Tapestry By The Wonder Trio- Monocled Man

27th October 2021

Monocled Man doesn't need much of an introduction since the critical acclaim and massive success of their first album, “Southern Drawl”, in 2014. 

The British electro-acoustic trio is the brainchild of Loop Collective trumpet player Rory Simmons and was formed in 2011. Each member of Monocled Man has lent their unique talents to a wide range of diverse and successful projects, spanning multiple styles and genres across both the jazz and electronic scenes.

Rory Simmons has created a wide variety of electronic music under the moniker Harlequin. Troyka. While guitarist Chris Montague and versatile drummer Jon Scott combine their talents from their collaborations with legendary producers, including Squarepusher and Shabaka Hutchings's band Sons Of Kemet XL. 

The eclectic combination of extensive experience and an assortment of contrasting styles and influences means the trio has produced an array of successful and diverse projects in both the jazz and electronic scenes. Monocle Man is already leading the way by pushing artistic boundaries, refusing to be categorised. Combining all the improvised freedom of contemporary and hauntingly powerful digital sound manipulation to make a signature sound. 

As with ‘Meridian' and ‘Bernabe Jurado' Ex- Voto reflects Simmons's intention to convey a story via his compositions. He's a long-lined improviser with an extensive vocabulary, and Chris Montague's sound palette extends far above and below linear guitar breaks. This leads to a sound that is both accomplished and exciting.

Ex-Voto, inspired by the dystopian novels of the 19th-century British author Samuel Butler (most prominently the book ‘Erewhon'), plots an engaging and coherent musical journey through dark soundscapes peppered with vital instrumental melodies, the sum of which could be a haunting yet exhilarating soundtrack to accompany the apocalyptic visions of a maladjusted world.

The resultant work glueing together the atmosphere of Massive Attack inspired dub and Fourtet influenced ambience, with freewheeling improv amongst the trio itself. Thus, providing a thematically coherent masterpiece with the organic sound that is at times reminiscent of the meandering and fascinating electronics of Future sounds of London.

Capturing all of the satirical essence of ‘Erewhon', the album is best experienced in its entirety to appreciate the full extent of the musical talent of the trio as they keep us enchanted by sonic fascination. As usual with Monocled Man, the music brings us on a haunting, intriguing journey reflecting the bleakness and thought-provoking nature of the inspirational subject matter. 

The attention to detail in sound design and compositional approaches to harmony and rhythm make Ex-Voto a symphonic sound that exhilarates and haunts simultaneously.

‘End signs', the first track on the album, begins with the soft subtle undertone but quickly sharpens our senses with the emotionally charged burst of the trumpet. By the time we reach ‘Cellarius' shores, the sequence of sounds overlaps and blends, beautifully reflecting the chaotic world depicted by Butler. Especially as the track gathers intensity pulling us almost breathlessly towards spiralling out of control so, it's a relief when we arrive at ‘Natural 93', where we transition from nerve-wracking to soothing. 

Ex-Voto is an album on which instrumentation is tight and reflective of a trio who know what they are doing. The dynamic production weaves a tapestry of beautiful melodic and haunting stories without ever missing a beat. 

Ex-Voto is available on Whirlwind Recordings. 

Playlist:

  1. End Signs 
  2. Przhevalsky
  3. Sense
  4. Gemstones
  5. Tin Skulls
  6. Heksen Romance
  7. Siler Woods Pt 1
  8. Cellarius Shores
  9. Natural 93
  10. Amongst The Machines
  11. Siler Woods Pt 2
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