Monno: Ghosts
Conspiracy Records

To the uninitiated, Monno would perhaps appear to be a reasonably conventional quartet. After all, group members Marc Fantini, Derek Shirley, Gilles Aubrey, and Antoine Chessex play drums, bass, “singing” laptop, and tenor sax “with guitar amps” respectively so one might naturally expect to hear them play a “normal” bass and drum rhythm pattern or two and maybe even a sax solo. But Monno, of course, is anything but conventional and all such expectations are challenged by the forty-five minutes of coal black sludge constituting Ghosts. The album's molten drones and slow-motion beats give new meaning to the word primitive.

In the fifteen-minute opener “Negative Horizon,” grinding sheets of black metal bludgeon the listener into submission when they creep ever so slowly, leaving trails of acidic ooze in their wake. “Troye” accelerates the tempo from the first's funereal lurch to a pounding attack while shivering masses of laptop-generated noise mercilessly churn alongside; halfway through, the deathly croak of a diseased vocal also fights its way to the surface. “Mérule” actually renders the Monno sound somewhat conventional by pairing a bass and drum foundation to a droning duet of saxophone and laptop wail. Then comes the album's fiercest track which is also the shortest: “Hull,” a three-minute torrent of drum cacophony and squealing noise. Surprisingly, “Endfall” brings the album to a relatively peaceful close with the tumult subsiding and the dust settling; despite such quietude, winds, emissions, and tormented wails ensure that the mood remains unsettling to the end. That Ghosts is released on Conspiracy speaks volumes, as listeners familiar with the label will know even before hearing Monno's release that its malignant character will be very much in line with other equally viral titles in the label's catalogue.

January 2009