Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Better By Half

Given some of the song titles, it's not hard to imagine Munk's tunes as the soundtrack to an obscure fantasty film with a cult following. "Monopteros", "Psycho Magic" and "The Knights of Heliopolis" all inspire images of occult worlds where the barrier between technology and witchcraft is permeable.

That's especially true of the final cut ("Knights …") which begins with the same rigid kick drum that powers most of Cloudbuster. But the damp electronics and Mellotron-like flutes signal altered states of consciousness. A brief celebratory break with hi-hat and disco bass eventually decays into one final minute of rattling drone.

If this were an actual LP, side two beats side one, no contest. The two opening tracks -- "Live Fast! Die Old!" and "Down in L.A." indulge in the kind of coarse, nightlife-posturing that inspires scoffs from those who think electronic dance music is nonsense.

Guest vocalist Asia Argento doesn't do anything interesting during her three appearances. Matty Safer of The Rapture makes a better showing by playing bass on two songs -- his work in "The Rat Race" nails down a rhythmic strut reminiscent of Soft Cell's version of "Tainted Love."

Despite the 1:1 ratio of compelling to ho-hum, there's enough to Cloudbuster, Munk's second full length, to prompt The Typing Monkey to check out his 2006 debut LP Aperitivo.

Reference materials: Though there isn't an obvious musical correlation, for some reason the second half of Cloudbuster brings to mind the work of both David Shire and Alain Goraguer.

Bonus fun facts: Clearly Mathias Modica, the man behind Munk, cherry picks his references from the best of mythology both modern and ancient. Check out the Wikipedia entry for Heliopolis and then look at this picture of a monopteros in a park in M√ľnchen.