Lable: Cold Transmission Records
Release Date: Oct 12 2018
Members: Björn Ullmann (vocals/Guitar) Ric Freymann (Guitar)
Recorded 2017 by Javier Ortiz at Brazil Studios (Madrid, Spain)
Mixed and mastered by Timo Höcke at Wellenschmiede (Hamburg
So my newest review is for a German band off of Cold Transmission records called Monographic. Since I have been listening to a lot of post punk music you definitely start to get lost in the landscape of this standard post punk sound. So when I hear a new one I am really looking for something that sets them apart from the pack. I also need a level of quality that pays homage to the predecessors of the genre. I know a tall order but Monographic checks those boxes. Lets first talk about where they break new ground. The singer Bjorn Ulmann croons in a beautiful baritone which is so missing in this style. He slips from highs to lows to change tone and build emotion. You can hear his hint of an accent in his well delivered English lyrics that reminded me of Marc Burgess of the Chameleons. He also has enough razor in his voice to cut past the monotone drone of his contemporaries. He sings in a lilting and energetic singing volley with the dancing guitar rifts. I found myself drawn to the straight forward truth of the lyrics. Lets talk drums, my heart was pounding from the use of driving and prominent toms that reminded me of the Happy Mondays. For being dark post punk music the drive and energy had a bright flavor that I found captivating.
The songs are extremely well played with the faithful quality you are looking for in a retrospective post punk sound. This is a very city scape feeling sound. Movement and dark streets at 2am bustling home with pretty people going exciting places. It has that heartbeat thrum of life that can be captured in the sound of a band that has lived and breathed the face of an urban landscape. The guitars are full of motion and Ulmann’s chanting vocals give a blue collar punk edge that offsets the technical complexity of the guitars and music. It’s stripped down and driving in a scene full of synthesizers and texture. Monographic focuses on the driving bassline of the roots. Taking this step back in time I feel added further originality to the sound.
Stand out tracks include:
Addicted – This is a straight forward post punk driver that definitely had a feel of the Chameleons. It was sharp and edgy just to this side of post punk without crossing into a punk level of snarl. It’s a topic easy to relate to. The guitars are thick and Ulmann’s cadence keeps motion and blood flowing through the song until it’s end.
The Old Ones – Not sure if this was an HP Lovecraft shout out but it definitely had a dark and frightening elder tension. This makes excellent use of those toms to create a driving tension. I love the breakdown which drops everything away then allows the scalpel precision guitar to cut through the darkness.
Out of Time – I love when an album builds you into what you think of as the sound of this band and then flips the script on it’s head with a totally different tone and sound. This was that track. It has a bright vibrant energy that has flavors of The Church and other New wave progressive sensibility. It has an edge on the front of the beat to create urgency and is a wonderful lift in the middle of the album.
Overall this album is very familiar. It is building on concepts I know and love, but rather than re inventing the wheel it changes and blends just enough of these familiar themes to find it’s own voice. The production is first rate and the fast medium tempo keeps your foot tapping through the end. I wanted to hear more chances taken, to push further to the edge. At the same time I bask in the warm glow of a tone and sounds I love done with a unique twist that kept my attention. Listening to this album is like seeing an old friend with an exciting new story about where life is today. Hear that story for yourself.