Monomer‘s first EP release, ‘Trials’, came out last year on Pause. Since ‘Trials’ his name has popped up on a multitude of high-profile compilations, including Ubiktune’s ‘Preschtale Variations’ and upcoming Fez soundtrack remix album ‘FZ: Side F’. Now he’s back, with a new release seemed destined to make sure next time you read his name there’ll be a strong association attached to it.
First of all, anyone already versed in Monomer’s work is in for a bit of a shock; ‘Quite Operational’ is quite different from anything he’s released in the past. Following the recent trend towards Drive-influenced 80s electro-house in chiptune, which was further pushed by the popularity of Hotline Miami’s soundtrack and the output of Telefuture, Monomer’s most recent opus is an 80s homage painted neon.
What sets this aside from previous retrospective exercises in postmodernism is the depth at which the decade is explored. Not only is the aforementioned electro-house delved into, but ‘On The Brink’ has flourishes of hair metal melodies, and ‘Better Living Through Dysgenics’ features chordal tones that wouldn’t be amiss on a Bowie record. These strands stand strong alongside the pulsating bass and kicks of the rest of the release, creating a unified window into the past.
Another noticeable difference from its contemporaries is Monomer’s utilisation of tension and release. Album opener and title track ‘Quite Operational’ hits hard when it does finally hit, and ‘Deletion’ blends industrial tinges with a foreboding atmosphere, an atmosphere seen multiple times on this release. Think Rolly Mingwald but more menacing.
The album isn’t perfect though. The eight tracks here could easily have been cut down to six; ‘The Glow and The Gleam’ flows by inoffensively but also rather blandly, and final track ‘Discontinue’ flitters without aim and ends up nowhere. In my opinion, the euphoric grandiose of ‘On The Brink’ would have made a far more compelling album closing.
That said, this is still a great release. This foray into cyberpunk and Miami-House (yeah that’s a genre I just made up) is a fantastic one, in fact one of the best and most courageous yet. By mixing more than the standard broth in an emerging subculture, Monomer will solidify himself as one of its founders.