CORAL: MONSTER RALLY Wednesday 09 November, 2011

How about a nice slice of psychedelic-tribal-hawaiian beat mastery? Yummers.

Some of you who are my age might be old enough to remember the ITV schools programme Picture Box. You might also know what I mean when I say that Monster Rally is like the theme music to Picture Box after some hefty hydro smoke…N.B. Whilst trying to find video evidence of picture box I stumbled across the titles of Stop Look Listen, I don’t remember it being this funky…then again I was only 5. I thought you all deserve a treat though so Stop, Look and Listen (ha and indeed ha)!

There’s no denying it. I. Love. Hip. Hop. Not sure if that’s entirely pertinent but I thought I should proffer a smidgen of information about me in order to help you assess my review of the work in question.

I first heard of Monster Rally toward the back end of last year when they/he/she/it/shim (delete as applicable) released the Color Sky 7”.  I won’t say I fell in love with it but it certainly did enough to spark some intrigue in the cavernous depths of my music brain.

Coral LP was released in mid January 2011 but it has taken me this long to properly organise my thinking about it (a feat which I’m still not entirely sure I’ve achieved).

Fans of Dilla, Madlib, Doom et al should take note; this album is probably the purest distillation of loopism that I’ve ever heard.  I say this with respect to the fact that the all of the songs consist of strongly repetetive loops that evolve slowly and subtly across the duration of the track.  This makes listening a rather strange and mesmeric experience.  However, this is not a straight up hip hop beats album.  The samples here are plucked from an altogether different field.  I guess the most populist touchstone would be The Avalanches.

My initial response to the album was that I wanted to go and get some Brylcream, Hawaiian shirts and skulk about in the suburbs of 1950s America.  This album makes me think of The Big Lebowski and Seymour from Ghost World.  At times (Cuban Velvet) it feels like being sat inside a Kaleidoscope. At other times (Rainbow Rd.) it feels like I’m in a full on wood panelled tradional American den and then (Sun Videos) I’m in Africa.

Overwhelmingly this is a sunshine album.  I suspect that a lot of listeners will find the intentional monotony of style hard to bear but a small amount of perserverance will allow the subtle layers and textures to reveal themselves.  This is made even harder by the complete absence of voices save for a few obscure TV show or film samples.  Hip Hop purists may find this work easier to take to than those not indoctrinated to the ways of the MPC which is a shame.  This album would be a blessing for those hot and hazy summer barbecues (there. I’ve probably jinxed the summer by making that plural).

In summary it’s difficult to summarise.  Mesmeric? Yes? Mysterious? Check. Gorgeous? Indeed. Hip hop heads will probably enjoy and those that aren’t that way inclined should stick it on and then go about their business and those loops will surely worm their way into the cerebral cortex.

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