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Digging Deep: Monika

Digging Deep: Monika
Matt Clough

New blood (often finds it hard to break into the established order of many labels’ rosters with only truly unique and exciting talents being given an opportunity. Step forward Maxwell, better known as Monika who seems to be on a one man mission to shake things up and cause a stir in the 170 multiverse.

An excellent addition to the prestigious Med School New Blood series in “Thunderstruck” is complimented by releases on Slime Recordings and his latest Jaguar Knight EP on Retrograde Sound. Monika’s production style defies typical Drum and Bass conventions weaving intricate atmospheric rhythms with addictive, punchy drum work and smooth, soaring bass lines.

In anticipation of a new track forthcoming on the Ingredients compilation Substance due in April, Monika drops some of the deepest cuts from his record collection in the latest in our Digging Deep series.

Cylob – Cylobian Sunset
Hailing from the 90s IDM scene Cylobian Sunset is a collection of raw downtempo and dance tracks created on analogue synths and drum sequencers. What drew me to this album the most is the delicate track Foid. There’s a lot of emotion in this song that comes from the subtlety of the percussion against the swelling pads and it successfully displays the strength of simplicity in writing.

Haxan Cloak – Observatory/Hounfour (Temple)
This happens to be my latest purchase and it’s a lovely record. It’s a masterful display of the use of guitar pedals and looping to create soulful and moving music. Both these tracks have dark undertones that are lifted by dancing melodies that build up into exhilarating climaxes, leaving you with a sense that you have embarked on a meaningful journey.

Grammatics – Grammatics
This album has stayed with me from my indie band days about 7 years ago, and I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow it. What makes them stand from the crowd is their elegant lyric-writing skills coupled with powerful atmospherics and beautiful cello parts. The band parted ways soon after releasing this debut album, but they left a powerful and very well put-together album behind them. I adore electronic music, but when I fall in love with a talented band like this, their music never leaves me.

Nomad Soul – Forever ft Lucinda/Into The Ocean
This is understated music from a highly talented emerging jazz collective who specialise in emotive atmospherics with complex basslines and drum patterns. Their true energy lies in their live performances but luckily they have managed to capture the essence of their power in this two track EP. Forever features powerful vocals from Lucinda that gives the track a playful quality, while the masterful sax in Into The Ocean drifts the music across a soulful terrain.

Clarity – Terminology EP
Clarity is not a name that would usually appear on an ‘obscure’ music list on a drum and bass blog, but this record came out relatively unnoticed on Nu Directions which has since stopped releasing music. It took about two years to actually come out, and when I finally got my hands on it all the records in the shop were warped! Thus I never play the record out, but it’s a great EP to listen to. The track ‘Dreams Within Dreams’ is astonishing. The synth-pad work is nothing short of envy inducing; simple, breathless and elegant.

Susanne Abbuehol – Compass
This album is absolutely and positively stunning. This record features Chick Corea and Sun Ra
in pieces adapted from James Joyce poems. Most notable is the track The Twilight Turns From Amethsyt. The true genius of Joyce’s writing is brought to life by amazing saxophoane solos and Abbuehol’s breathtaking vocals that move around intricate scales so effortlessly. The piece conjures up vivid imagery and toys with complex emotions. I literally stopped in my tracks and gaped open-mouthed when I first heard this.

Richard Skelton – Landings
Landings is more of a spiritual exploration than a musical piece and it stands as a true work of art. After the loss of his wife Skelton turned to composition, thus creating heart-wrenching music that mirrors the grief he suffered. Landings is features an unorthodox violin technique that creates screeching metallic atmospheres like a ship fighting against the ocean, contrasting against the achingly beautiful bowed melodies resulting in music that tears open your soul. The LP serves as artwork chronicling a very intimate story.