Monolake - Gravity
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Monolake
Gravity
(EFA)

It's been more time than once that I've listened to albums by artists or groups with no regards to the order. Simply because of convenience, I'll often start with the newest album by a group that I've never heard of, then work my way back from there. It was a about a half a year ago that someone recommended the group Monolake to me, and I did just that. After finding (and subsequently enjoying the hell out of) Cinemascope, I told myself that I would hunt down more releases as I had the time and money.

Now, I've heard the album previous to the aforementioned Cinemascope, and while it's definitely not a letdown, there are things about the release that make me wonder what I would have thought of it had I heard Gravity first. Before I start making absolutely no sense at all, I guess I should explain that my main questioning of the album lies in the use of the same sounds on both discs. Sure, many artists have done this before, and although the tracks in which sounds are re-used sound quite different from the originals, there's still something that sticks in the back of my head and needles me, telling me that I've heard it before.

Upon closer inspection, let me compare the track "Ice" from Gravity and the track "Bicom" from Cinemascope. Both have razor sharp beat programming, and while "Ice" takes on a slightly more frenetic pace, "Bicom" slows everything down to a slower, rumbling speed. Both tracks, however, use the same sort of breathy vocal sample, and while being slightly different, definitely have shared elements. Likewise, the track "Zero Gravity" from this release shares the same prickly electronic sounds with "Ping" from Cinemascope. Again, it's a small thing, but the tracks feel slightly more like remixes than actual new tracks.

Despite those few instances, though, Gravity is still mostly its own beast. The one-two punch of the epic tracks "Static" and "Fragile" (which average out around 10 minutes apiece and were first released in slightly different forms as a 12") are one of the album highlights. The dark, haunting beats and droning background washes of "Fragile" are one of the best things that the group has ever done, as the track bangs out almost relentlessly, giving you little time for a breath. The album opening track of "Mobile" slams along at an almost dancefloor pace, with gurgling electronic melodies providing a bit of playfullness in the dark recesses (and yes, that's a good thing).

One of the best tracks on the album doesn't even have any beats at all, though. "Nucleus" closes out the album with over 9 minutes of delicately layered washes that provide a nice aural rinsedown, taking the minimal themes from the album and stripping them down to an even more base level. With 8 tracks and almost 70 minutes of music, this is another album that doesn't skimp on giving you bang for your buck, and if you're into minimal electronic music with finely honed beat structures, Monolake is doing some of the best work out there.

rating: 7.7510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00