Dominated by an almost dystopian theme, Monk plough through their set with particularly heavy-handed drumming, guitar tones presumably reliant on pedals and a kind of aggressive sing-speak approach (effects also employed) that tries to convey a sense of despair. The super-serious nature of the music doesn’t particularly invoke the sentiment they presumably desire; it gives off a soundtrack-to-an-over-budget-car-themed-action-film vibe that doesn’t stoke the best of memories (late night 5USA?). The vocalist on more than one occasion traverses into the crowd and displaces numerous gig-goers (impedes my note taking also), as if to try and give the audience a sense of urgency and make them feel the full experience or whatever. After a fast tempo closer, the front man dispenses his axe and vacates as the band continues to play, allowing the increasingly crowded room to hear the coveted gift of protracted feedback.

The Bear Around Your Neck

Suiting the worryingly small size of the Castle’s stage, the drum and guitar duo (whose name being typed out again would conveniently pad out the word count) demonstrate that you don’t need a quantity of players to earn attention; just substance I suppose. The guitar’s consistently interesting chord progressions (A bard?) alongside the tones afforded to it by the tasteful use of pedals essentially (not literally) construct the landscape; only for the drums to then deconstruct what was just achieved and proceed to mould it into something far more provoking than what any typical architecture student would attempt in his studies. Curiously, the use of an ‘acoustic’ with the effects at hand drives the nostalgic, melancholic ethos; I’m amazed that particularly guitar string didn’t break sooner. The ability of the vocalist to switch between different registers, for example using his low range in an almost narrative style in the mellower stages really sets a tone that the audience can sink into.


Despite attending this gig with no real idea as to who the headliner was, I took a leap into the unknown; my knowledge of modern ceramics wholly inadequate. Numerically larger than their predecessor, they swiftly illuminate the design flaws of the Castle; the overheating almost engineered by the band’s playing. What really impresses me is not the technical skill or the consistent flow of their music (it helps), but their supernatural ability in sounding as though there are twice as many of them that can’t be seen. It’s as though they aren’t replicating the instruments of the actual players but instead are a shadow brass section added to augment the band; perhaps they forged an ill-advised pact with an omnipotent being capable of granting musicians hidden, unfair advantages beforehand.

They capture the quirky side of New Wave (an essence deemed rare?), the synthesiser playing seemingly towing the 1980s to the present day (and geographic location) as the remainder of the band instrumentally throw themselves against each other in a fashion that actually adds instead of… detracts. Even when strings are broken or tuning is warranted, they adapt to the situation (unless it was all secretly scripted?). All present on the stage share vocal duties (some more than others), which adds to their versatile style and planks on even more artistic depth, as well as complimenting the insanity of standing in a room at this point about as warm as an industrial oven. Looking at their set from the inception to the end, you could probably mistake them for a different band altogether, one that was able to deviate yet somehow fill the void of consistency by essentially tearing out pages from the ‘Prog Book of Instrumental Bludgeoning’; if that was actually a book.

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Angus Rolland

Recent career decisions have compelled me into the journalistic... thing; I could list my literary influences or even debate which 3rd rate beverage has the best economic value per litre (But I won’t). Oh, in addition, I write reviews for the Independents Network.