PLAYLIST
TEAM EFFORT/CURATED BY DOMINIC VALVONA

After avoiding Covid for nearly two and a half years (with periods of shielding) I’ve finally succumbed to the dreaded virus this week. And it’s hit me hard. But because I’m such a martyr to the cause of music sharing I’ve managed to compile this eclectic bonanza of choice music from the last month.

The Monolith Cocktail Monthly features tracks from the team’s reviews and mentions, but also includes those tunes we’ve just not had the room to feature. That team includes me (Dominic Valvona), Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Andrew C. Kidd and Graham Domain.

We’ve supplemented the original audio playlist with a video version on our Youtube channel. This will feature a slightly different lineup (the electronic music collective Violet Nox’s ‘Senzor’ primer for one).

 The full track list is as follows:

Dead Horses ‘Macabro’
Grave Goods ‘Source’
No Age ‘Compact Flashes’
Etceteral ‘Rome Burns’
Al-Qasar Ft. Jello Biafra ‘Ya Malak’
Clear Path Ensemble ‘Plazma Plaza’
Antonis Antoniou ‘Syntagi’
Ocelot ‘Vanha Hollywood’
The Beach Boys ‘You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone – Live At Carnegie Hall’
Rezo ‘Soemtimes’
Blue Violet ‘Favorite Jeans’
Teo Russo ‘Novembre’
Keiron Phelan & The Peace Signs ‘Guessing Game’
Micah P. Hinson ‘Ignore The Days’
Sonnyjim/The Purist Ft. MF DOOM & Jay Electronica ‘Barz Simpson’
Salem Trials ‘Just Give Up’
The Bordellos ‘Nurse The Screens!’
Legless Trials ‘Ray’s Kid Brother Is The Bomb’
S. Kalibre ‘Hip Hop World’
King Kashmere/Leatherette ‘G-Cell’
Depf/Linefizzy ‘Rain’
Isomonstrosity/645AR/John Lenox Ft. Danny Brown ‘Careful What You Wish For’
Tess Tyler ‘Try Harder’
Qrauer Ft. Anne Muller ‘Rund’
Sampa The Great Ft. W.I.T.C.H. ‘Can I Live?’
Rob Cave/Small Professor ‘Eastern Migration’
Salem Trials ‘Jc Cells’
Wish Master/Axel Holy Ft. Wundrop ‘FLIGHT MODE’
Alexander Stordiau ‘Nothing’s Ever Acquired’
Simon McCorry/Andrew Heath ‘Mist’
Andrei Rikichi ‘At Home I Hammer Ceramic Golfing Dogs’
OdNu ‘My Own Island’
Floorbrothers ‘In Touch’
Conformist X H O R S E S ‘Heddiw’
Slim Wrist ‘Milk Teeth’
Forest Robots ‘Everything Changes Color With The Rainfall’
Noah ‘Odette’
Yara Asmar ‘there is a science to days like these (but I am a slow learner)’
Tess Tyler/Spindle Ensemble ‘Origami Dogs (Graphic Score Interpretation)’
Christina Vantzou/Michael Harrsion/John Also Bennett ‘Piano On Tape’
Yemrot ‘Big Tree’







ALBUM REVIEW
GRAHAM DOMAIN

Tess Tyler ‘Fractals Vols. 1 & 2’
9th September 2022

Fractals is the wonderful debut album by Bristol based composer Tess Tyler. It works well, both as an artistic statement and also as a shop window for what the composer can do. Having composed already for film and video game soundtracks, the album includes dark sci-fi experimental electronic soundscapes such as ‘Overture’ and ‘Interlude 1’ and also neoclassical pieces that have an expansive cinematic quality used to conjure up a whole range of emotion. Undoubtedly many of the pieces will be used in films, documentaries and adverts and cause the viewer to wonder who has created this incredible music and hence track down the album.

Individually, there are some incredibly exciting tracks, such as ‘Sell the Sky’, which has all the energy and thrill of a Bond film action sequence but with its own individual sound and quirkiness! Most notably, the incredibly propulsive, expressive, explosive drumming that stop, starts and erupts into euphoria! It is so joyful, that it almost has its own transcendent trans-dimensional reality! Existing, as it does, outside of time and space and, only in the moment!

Beginning with processed electronic orchestral strings, ‘Origami Dogs’ is another propulsive, forward- moving, tribal, dark exciting cinematic piece that builds via sequencers and minimalist piano before rhythmically abstract drums and power chord guitars drive it to its climax.

Black disturbed noise begins ‘Not Mine’ before a minimalist piano motif and sequencers combine with sad brass and off-kilter drums to produce a sublime jazz in-flecked late night moonlit masterpiece!

Dark electronic noise gives way to minimalist piano, synth, white noise and backward drums in ‘7ero’ to produce a melodically sad refrain and Japan-like melody.

‘Instinct’ begins with drones of guitar, synth arpeggios and computer babble before a minimalist, expressive piano motif takes over, augmented by plucked strings creating an air of anticipation. The track builds with driving drums and guitar propelling the song to its conclusion.

One of the best tracks on the album is ‘The Nothing Cycle’ which begins with a cyclical, minimal Steve Reich piano and electronically manipulated orchestral noise before evolving into a Mike Oldfield type moody piano refrain with heavy guitar chords. A mad drum and pummelling bass soon kick in and build to a crescendo of noise that suddenly stops to leave just a bass and drum pulse and piano chords before a sequencer adds to the sense of drama and anticipation and rapidly builds momentum to a mad rock drum and tense guitar finale!

The studio album is augmented by a second album of one-off live re-imaginings of five of the pieces by The Spindle Ensemble with their interpretations of Tyler’s graphic score. (A graphic score being a way to represent the music outside of traditional notation, using visual symbols. Each instrument being assigned a different symbol). Thus, we get radically different versions of ‘Sell the Sky’, ‘Origami Dogs’, ‘7ero’, ‘Instinct’ and ‘The Nothing Cycle’. It is an interesting concept and one that reveals a different side to each composition. ‘Sell the Sky’ appears here as decidedly more downbeat, almost gloomy compared to the original studio version. Cello and violin are employed to bring out the melancholy in the music, which is augmented by disturbed orchestral dissonance with piano strings being hit and plucked to maximum effect! Similarly, ‘Origami Dogs’ employs violin, slow strings and piano to convey feelings of sadness, anxiety and loneliness.

‘7ero’ meanwhile, employs a descending marimba motif while a disturbed violin plays a lonely refrain, conveying feelings of intrigue and unease. When the piano comes in the music portrays feelings of alienation and mental imbalance before the marimba and bass play a single note to fade.

Violin overshot with minimal marimba provides the setting and a sense of space on ‘The Nothing Cycle’. The music resonates with a sadness almost verging on despair. The marimba conveys anxiety and resignation with its minimal note runs while a depressed violin conjures up the ghosts of regret.

In its reworked format, ‘Instinct’ is transformed into a beautiful melancholic piece with violin and one note marimba giving way to ascending piano arpeggios and two note double bass creating tension and suspense. Plucked guitar strings and ruminating marimba improvisations combine with violin to create feelings of sadness and regret – a lament for something lost, a missed chance. Beauty in sadness.

A debut album of beauty, versatility, energy and vision. Outstanding!

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