Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Robotmonkeyarm - Parts One to Three

"If you're not foaming at the mouth, what's the point of making out, what's the point, what's the point?" cries out the angst-ridden voice through The Psychogenic Stomp!, the opening track to Part 3 of Robotmonkeyarm's barmy and uplifting charge through a comic book land of heightened and twisted reality, and who could argue with a statement like that?

This is another one that slipped under the radar, hardly surprising given the nature of these things, coming as it does from that alternate universe of undiscovered music that is Bandcamp. A lot of the music on that site is forgettable, but not this. Fusing Mike Patton influenced metal mayhem with punky surf music, electronica, chamber music, b-movie soundtracks, in fact just about everything you'll find in the modern musical kitchen, this band are possessed by a huge love of their craft and an ever-present progressive sensibility that takes them to places you would imagine Bongwater visiting had the aforementioned Mr Patton been of their number.

Apologies for that typically over-long and unwieldy sentence, but this is just too good to be flippantly brief about. Hailing from New England, Robotmonkeyarm is the creation of one Ryan Baker, and is ostensibly the story of a robot, his nemesis in the form of a gorilla, and a cyborg girl. Oh, and somewhere along the line, the robot and the gorilla have swapped an arm, and not always the same one, at that. More may be found out HERE. All this is played out to a psychedelic surf punk b-movie soundtrack, and it is a whole load of fun.

The comic book artwork on all these EPs is by Matt Talbot, a name that the comics fans among you may or may not have heard of, I wouldn't know.

Part One - Robot Senza Nome

Part One is titled "robot senza nome" (robot with no name), and as you might guess has a twisted spaghetti western soundtrack, gorilla and robot fighting over the girl. Suitably enough, the track titles are in Italian.

Just a glance at the instrumentation will tell you that Robertmonkey arm are not afraid to be ambitious, and their thirst for adventure pays off handsomely.

Starting off with l'automa, a surf punk charge that sounds like Dick Dale fronting Mr Bungle, completed by a horn section and synchopated handclaps, the song degenerates into stuttering synth bubbles. A great start!

Duane Eddy and Enrico Morricone get in on the act on il brutto, and we are given respite with la bella, a brief foray into becalmed Flaming Lips psychedelia, with sequencers. This part ends with Titoli (Security) where the slow menace is joined by a mournful bassoon and then a surging pipe organ, recorded at the Sacred Hearts Cathedral, Rochester NY, as the band disappear over the horizon in a cloud of desert dust. Epic stuff, and something that should not be hiding in a dark corner of Bandcamp!

1. l'automa (2:07)
2. il brutto (3:40)
3. la bella (1:07)
4. Titoli (6:10)

Line up:
Ryan Baker - baritone & surf guitar, clarinet, alto sax & e.bass on 4 glockenspiel, vocals, musique concrete & electronics
Jon Briggs - baritone & stunt guitar, e.bass, banjo, mandolin, various
C-Nug - cello
George Davis - Harp
Mike D’Errico - vibraphone, glockenspiel, congas & bongos
Itchy - e.bass
Katelyn Kern- bassoon
Thatcher Lyman - Pipe Organ
Joseph K. Murphy & DeLaine Bennett - lil'guitar & percussion on 4
Thomas Sanchez - Classical Guitar, MPC
Tanner Upthegrove - surf guitar, various keyboards and handclaps
Bucky Waters - vocals, toy piano and percussion

Part Two - Cinema Vomitif & the White Mask Of Doom

Charging out of a parking lot, tyres screaming, Cinema Vomitif belies its stated influence of Italian horror movie score writer Claudio Simonetti, not that I'd know anyway, to be honest, and to me is Shaft on crystal meth, and you better not get in his goddamn way!

Dick Dale is back again, this time in a roustabout with an Enrico Morricone soundtrack on the frantic Kill The Cutie.

Deliria (the final girl) is more like it from a kitsch horror perspective, complete with a creepy spoken word vocal that covers everything like a spider's web, rising to the inevitable scream.

We leave the cheap velour seats after Revenge Of The Sweater Girl chases us right outta the auditorium.

1. Cinema Vomitif (4:31)
2. Kill The Cutie (2:54)
3. Deliria (the final girl) (4:08)
4. Vengeance Of The Sweater Girl (3:11)

Line up:
The Amazing Seth Bailin - saxophones (all of them)
Katelyn Kern - bassoon
Luke Miller - violin (all of them)
C-Nug - cello
Drumset duties shared by Jarrett Osborn (2,4), Josh Hamrick (1,3) and Mike D'errico (3)
Mike D'errico - upright bass, vibraphone, tympani, and an ungodly amount of percussion
Jon Briggs - baritone & jaw dropping stunt guitar, e.bass, various
Bucky Waters -voice & farfisa on 4
Tanner UptheGrove - surf & baritone guitar, tons of keyboards, percussion
Ryan Baker- baritone guitar, glockenspiel, vocals, choir, musique concrete, bowed metal, midiNES, autoharp, piano & electronics

Part Three - ​in memoriam to those we've lost and those we don’t remember

Wherein we should be foaming at the mouth and making out, as I mentioned at the beginning. The Psychogenic Stomp! is coming atcha from the same place as the marvellous Bongwater with Ann Magnusson, with the same much missed punky agression and Whatcha Gonna Do About It attitude.

The short head charge of the surf punk amphetamine fuelled rock'n'roll of Dance Party Ending leads into the surprisingly if fittingly reflective l'epilogo (in memoria di Anthony de Mello), the bassoon and cello coming into the spotlight. Almost a rock'n'roll chamber orchestra, at odds with what has gone before, but slotting in seamlessly nonetheless.

Last track APOEε4 is even odder, beginning in an experimental vein with a childlike piano motif leading the way, before fading into a field recording of gentle tide waves breaking on a beach. Robotmonkey arm has left its clothes on that beach and has walked out into the sea, never to be heard from again...or maybe not.

1. The Psychogenic Stomp! (2:35)
2. Dance Party Ending (1:53)
3. l'epilogo (in memoria di Anthony de Mello) (7:00)
4. APOEε4 (7:38) 

Line up:
Katelyn Kern - bassoon
C-Nug - cello
Jarrett Osborn -drumset
Briggs -TONS of guitar, baritone guitar and bass, also voice
Bucky -voice& keys
Tanner -keys&guitar
Mike D'Errico - ungodly amounts of percussion & mallets
Ryan Baker - baritone guitar, electronics and clarinet
Emperor Shibuya (RIP) - snoring on track one 


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