Monolake: Ghosts (CD, Imbalance, February 2012)

I loved Monolake throughout the last decade, and I was a huge fan of 2010’s Silence. Ghosts is apparently the second in a trilogy, and the continuity is clear — not least in the welcome reappearance of the spooky sleeve notes, but also in the abstracted mood, the extended beatless atmospheric interludes, the distant clanking, the robotic voices, and the powerful sense of mastery over the sounds creeping out of my headphones. But there are marked differences, too. The story introducing Silence puts me in mind of somewhere very cold, either a distant planet or the Antarctic of The Thing. This one is explicitly hot and humid. And that is reflected in the music: where the first installment was brittle, glacial techno, here we have a feverish onslaught of jungle rhythms and humming bass. It’s excellently done, but somehow I don’t find it anything like as involving and wondrous as its predecessor — maybe I spent too much of the mid-to-late-’90s listening to drill’n’bass, or maybe it’s because I’ve heard a similar thing being done recently with greater precision and greater ferocity recently by various Raster-Noton artists, but I found this record enjoyable but slightly underwhelming. It would be wrong to ask him to go back to making records like Gravity and Polygon Cities over and over again… but I do hope he manages to bring a bit of their magic quality to his new direction.

I bought this from Juno. They call it Leftfield.

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