Album Review/Matt Oliver




Telemachus ‘Boring And Weird Historical Music’
(High Focus) LP/Available Now


His involvement with everyone who’s anyone in UK hip-hop – Verb T, Ocean Wisdom, Kashmere, M9, The Last Skeptik, Jam Baxter and legions more – lead to The Guardian lauding Telemachus/Chemo as “one of those slightly obscure figures who has helped British hip-hop move along more than most people will probably ever know”. Unlikely as it is that his work there will ever be done, Boring & Weird Historical Music reinforces the producer’s perspectives that have been broadening since 2013’s In The Evening. Notwithstanding the casting of Roc Marciano and Jehst, it was a classy spreading of wings as exploration of textures through a lens took root.

A year later, the breakaway In Morocco continued a bid for calm and knowledge, gathering aromatic instrumental dialects from where the sun sets, for the consummate expedition while couch-bound and down. Album number three doesn’t need the reverse psychology of the title, but it does make definitive the promotion of Telemachus to adventurer and alchemist, simmering down soul, jazz, funk, indigenous rhythms and found sounds raised at the mercy of voodoo forces and meditative properties.

For those wanting sounds formed through and for sensory deprivation, ‘Disaster Enabled Vending Machines’ (the new, unofficial byword for chillout), the bassy ‘Beaten Gold’ and ‘Caroline What Is Wrong With You’ are pro-lockdown, promoting classic trip hop incubation to soothe and shield from the sun with. Depending on your energy levels, either use them to expand your mind from the horizontal position as attainable exotica, or just to provide companionship, setting a tone that puts a barrier between you and the dusky, dusty heat generated by the maddening crowd outside.

However, for all the measured, karmic twangs a la Khruangbin or Skinshape, perpetual percussion, synth lines that shapeshift in the ear of the beholder, and dubby, desert shimmer soaking up pressure before coolly exhaling, it’s that unshakeable but defined trepidation that becomes the album’s fulcrum. Opening track ‘Ungraceful Piano Sequence’ sets a fork in the road asking you to choose your own adventure, and ‘You Wanted a Handful of Sardines, Did You Not’ could well lead you to a boiling pot of cannibalism as you find yourself making your way through dimly lit undergrowth. On ‘I Am Delicious and Cute So I Will Buy Again’ and ‘Battle Sequence’, the tiptoeing on eggshells forces you to face your fears and not just cock half an ear, widening the album’s shrewd unpredictability as it looks both ways before ambling off the beaten track.

‘Greed’, overseen by Jerome Thomas, aims to cleanse souls with stark warnings in hushed tones, and ‘By the Moon’, teased by RHI, is another example of the album’s sequencing tersely tugging at the comfort zone you think Telemachus has laid on. The dark carnival of ‘Wickedest Ting’ featuring Killa P is an unsuspecting but no less welcome mantrap, the main difference being that it’s brought out into the open kicking and screaming, instead of attempting to hide in plain sight.

As a storyteller passing around rolling papers and whose travelogue bears no tall tales despite the signs indicating otherwise, Boring & Weird… is a groggy but high functioning experience – it has to be given that the wonder of taking in the surroundings is speckled with Telemachus’ pessimism, where the recommended reclining could lead you down the back of the sofa like quicksand. The flippant titles back the theory that for all the shadows cast and enlightenment he fulfills, Telemachus is still in the entertaining business, leading category makers a merry dance. Certainly on first listen the overriding sensation is of comfort and immersion, but soon you’ll be wanting Boring & Weird… to be the soundtrack to your insomnia, punctuated by the quotations of a sensei floating and fleshing out the fable as you take a fine toothcomb to the clues left by its enigmatic, noir-ish sage. The album’s conclusion, ‘Fools Gold’ starring Chris Belson, is suitably ambiguous – the instrumentation suggests happy ending, the vantage point vocals deem that the battle is nowhere near over.

The authenticity of Chemo’s darker-than-you-think epiphanies, producing as he lives it from his lookout post and switching up significance/fantasy and reality with invisible stitching, make it good for both under the stars and the duvet. With some inevitability, the enjoyment of what it means to be weird means the boring never transpires.





Matt Oliver

Unable to kick the reviewing habit for what is now the best part of fifteen years, Matt Oliver has gone from messing around with music-related courseworks and DIY hip-hop sites to pass time in sixth form and university, to writing for/putting out of business a glut of magazine review sections and features pages in both the UK and the US. A minor hip-hop freak in junior school, he has interviewed some serious names in the fields of both hip-hop and dance music – from Grandmaster Flash to Iggy Azalea – and as part of what is now a glorified hobby (seriously, every magazine he used to turn up at bit the dust within weeks), can also be found penning those little bits of track info you find on Beatport and Soundcloud, or the notes that used to come with your promo CD in the post (visit here for more details). He’s currently giving the twitter thing a go, so follow him at@brimupnorth.

New Music Roundup/Dominic Valvona





The Perusal is my regular one-stop chance to catch up with the mounting pile of singles, EPs, mini-LPs, tracks, videos and oddities that threaten to overload the Monolith Cocktail’s inboxes each month. A right old mishmash of previews, reviews and informative inquiry, this weeks assortment includes shout outs to The Bundy Bunch, CURRENTMOODGIRL, Double Françoise, Telemachus, We Jazz Records live serious of jazz recordings, and Sounds And Colours 10th Anniversary compilation special.


Telemachus ‘Greed ft. Jerome Thomas’
(High Focus)  Video track taken from the upcoming LP Boring And Weird Historical Music/22nd May 2020





Floating untethered once more, UK producer and artist David L.G. Webb traverses another amorphous musical geography on his latest album under the Greek mythology inspired Telemachus pseudonym. An outlet for explorations that take in an eclectic range of sounds, musics and soundtracks, from West Africa to the Caribbean, the Earthly and cosmic, Telemachus dreamily and longingly encompasses spells of jazz, the spiritual, hip-hop, trip-hop, neo-soul, ambient, electronica and down tempo. A break from Webb’s pioneering work, under the Chemo moniker, on the UK hip-hop scene – producing and working with luminaries and stalwarts Verb T, Kyza, Kashmere, Manage, Jehst, Triple Darkness, Jam Baxter and Onoe Caponoe – this flight of fantasy incarnation is a loose and free travelogue of the spiritual and imaginative that has so far delivered a trio of albums since 2011.

Released ahead of the latest yearning but, mostly, peaceable opus Boring And Weird Historical Music, the soulfully laced, softly tripped jazzy and vaporous video track ‘Greed’ features the achingly blessed sweeping vocals of neo-soul artist Jerome Thomas; just one of many guests, alongside RHI, Chris Belson, Killa P and Penelope Oddity, that feature on this polygenesis, blossoming album.

Keep your eyes peeled for a full review of that album in the next two weeks.



OK:KO/Alder Ego/Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen ‘Ateneum 2019 (We Jazz Live Plates VOL. 2)’
(We Jazz)  LP/May 22





A favorite label hub of mine, contemporary jazz specialists We Jazz Records have released an enviable catalogue of avant-garde, experimental, electrifying records over the years. A showcase for artists from the label’s city home of Helsinki, but also branching out with suites from fellow Scandinavians across the border and beyond, they’ve recently announced news of a series of live performance compilations.

Featuring a rich array of that roster, each volume is split between a trio of acts and ensembles, the performances all taken from various concerts in and around the Finnish capital in 2019. Today’s featured preview, Volume 2, was recorded in the Spring of last year at the historic Ateneum Art Museum in the city. Label mates Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen, OK:KO and Alder Ego each get two tracks on this magical, energetic and exploratory live compilation.

Led by drummer Okko Saastamoinen, the Helsinki quartet OK:KO open the album with a sophisticated, slinky splash of Savoy meets European avant-garde jazz. Group pianist Toomas Keski-Säntti changes from piano to Fender Rhodes, which the accompanying burb suggests, is ‘a little touch that opens up new avenues in their sound.’ Versions of tracks from the group’s 2019 debut Syrti are given a new lease of energy, with the rolling, contorted title-track from that album and the looping splashed ‘Piik’ taken on free-falling excursion.

Another drummer led combo, Joonas Leppänen’s Alder Ego quartet of Finnish talent transcends and go deep with a double-bass heavy version of ‘Cubism’ – which featured on their 2018 LP for the label, II – and offer up a new peregrination of scintillating, slinking, vaulting and New York skyline marauding sax appeal, ‘Mystery Room Nr. 6’.

The Helsinki duo of Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen meanwhile, turn in mesmerizing, Don Cherry meets Dizzy and Calloway swing like visions of ‘Fallow’ and ‘Goldenrod’; a duo of tracks taken from their eponymous 2019 LP.

Finland is proving a hothouse for emerging and already established talent, and this second volume in the live series offers insight and enjoyment (let’s not forget that) of that contemporary jazz blossoming. We Jazz is proving a reliable name of quality and discovery in the form. Take a punt, you won’t be disappointed.



Various ‘Sounds And Colours: 10 Years Anniversary Compilation’
(Sounds And Colours)   Album/Available Now





A gateway to everything worth celebrating about Latin American, the Sound And Colours platform, which includes one of the most in-depth of reference and news sites, guide books and events, has proved a rich essential source for me over the years. Whether it’s through the site’s cultural, political and historical published purview style series of accessible guides to Peru, Brazil and Colombia, or their considered catalogue of music projects, I’m kept up-to-speed and introduced to some of the continent’s most interesting artists and scenes. This includes the panoramic escapist electronica, progressive traversing music of Santiago Córdoba; the futuristic Rio de Janeiro leftfield bossa transmogrifications of João Carvalho (better known as leading experimental Brazilian light Sentidor); and the Costa Rican musical ethnologist Nillo (Johnny Gutierrez). All three of which appear alongside Sergio Mendoza’s Arizona-Mexican fusion Orkesta Mendoza (appearing in a triangle with Mexican Institute of Sound and Calexico) and the leading Rio talent (responsible for at least a 100 recordings) Alexandre Kassin on this generous tenth anniversary fundraiser.

A thankless task at the best of times, with countless sites and blogs closing down at a fair old rate for both a lack of support financially – proving hard enough just to cover costs, let alone make money or a wage from it – and indifference, Sounds And Colours is like many of us also now caught in the effects of lockdown. Wishing to retain that status as ‘a vital platform for Latin American musicians, filmmakers, artists, writers and other creative souls to find an appreciative audience’, the site is looking to its audience for help in keeping it going. And so marking ten years in serving that community, this 25-track compilation that stretches a musical geography, includes everything from electronica to psych to avant-garde to pop is both a celebration and vital way to support them. And as opposed to so many lockdown specials, fundraisers, this is indeed a rich and brilliant collection of new, rare and previously unreleased music.

You can visit the site bandcamp page here to find out how you can help keep this platform afloat.



The Bundy Bunch ‘POS’
(In Black Records) Single/Available Now



Creating a squall of attention for themselves with their slackened brand of lo fi hostility wrapped around jangled surf garage punk mischief, Norway’s knockabout serial killer pun Bundy Bunch follow up on their debut single with another mix of half time slumber and quickened American yoof twanged sulky hysteria. Despite that rough exterior and the eventual “piece of shit” breakdown at the end of this, the band’s second single, the Kopervik trio keeps things melodic and, even, fun. It’s a sound that could be described as a brash barreling Drums meets The Hunches.

Following up the band’s inaugural ‘BELUSHI SPEEDBALL’, ‘POS’ once more has a message about drugs misuse and hijinks. Guitarist/vocalist Ole Marius Saltvik explains: “the lyrics are the social effects certain drugs have on people, and how stupid it can make them act.” Basically, quitting being a dick. Infectious, free-spirited, The Bundy Bunch are a thrill and tonic to the pensive seriousness of lockdown. Take a hit for yourselves.



CURRENTMOODGIRL ‘The Letter L’
(Self-Release)  Single/Available Now





A skulk of coiled and shutter clicking machinery and synthesized percussion, Greta Edith’s (who you may know from both Bernard + Edith and Pearl City) disturbing but strangely alluring new visionary alter ego, CURRENTMOODGIRL is as foreboding as it is playful. Some of this is down to the playground like warped innocence of Edith’s childish but knowing vocals.

Today’s featured track, the inaugural release of this new incarnation, is the self-released track ‘The Letter L’. Described as, “A playground clap game that got out of hand”, the paddled and flickered sonic project debut is accompanied by an equally unnerving homemade music video, described as: ‘An alliterative fever dream of monochrome-on-red before a tangled & disheveled ballerina, Dancing like no one is watching.’

Posing as many questions, queries as postulating answers, the CURRENTMOODGIRL alter ego leads the listener ‘down the primrose path’ with a ‘study of the emotional life’s mercurial swings and the female self’. A transmogrification of Manchester’s industrial past, a love of film scores and the local GASH rave scene, Greta’s newest project occupies a strange dream reality. This first offering signifies a most enticing if daunting introduction to that world.



Double Françoise ‘Les Bijoux’
(Freaksville Music) LP/5th June 2020





As the moniker suggests, Double Françoise are about as French as it can get. The Gauloise smoky perfumed Chanteuse pop duo, couplet of Maxence and Elisabeth Jutel seem to have the providence and effortless cool élan to pull off the melodic melancholy and resigned love of such sirens and doyens of the form as Alice Dona, François Hardy, Sylvie Vartan and of course, Serge Gainsbourg and his retinue of femme muses. But this reminiscing musical couple actually derive their name from both the playwright, novelist Sagan Françoise – famous for her disillusioned bourgeois protagonist driven diorama romantic themed works – and the fatalistic actress Dorléac Françoise – the 1960s international starlet on the verge of great things who died at the age of 26 in a car accident.

The debut album, Les Bijoux, is said to be ‘a culmination of years of living together’; an album that ‘beautifully juxtaposes effortless, diaphanous pop with existential subject matter.’ Using an apparatus of Italian keyboards, tape recorders and Atari computers, the duo encompass everything from the French New Wave to the breezy, violin serenaded reminisces of the pastoral provinces. Though they also manage to evoke a Gallic vision of Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra, and on the shakers groove ‘Alcool Fort’, Jean-Luc Godard captured Rolling Stones – with also a hint of Chrissie Hynde. By the time we get to the ‘Loin De Toi’ we’ve heard Gilberto bossa, discothèque new wave, ye ye, gypsy jazz and dreamy electronic pop.

Sensual, breezy, giddy, waning, resigned, breathless and love-pained, everything you want from French pop music with depth and an edge.

Ahead of the album’s release in June, the Monolith Cocktail is sharing the duo’s title-track teaser/video.



Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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