Norway - Full Moon 38 - 11/23/99
Something is Like Nothing was
It's been over a month now since Monopot (a trio from Bergen) released their debut album,
Something is Like Nothing was. With references like Low, Mogwai, Slint, Codeine, and
the Chicago post-rock scene you'd better expect nothing but slowly floating melancholy and
intense tristesse. But, from the top-shelf, because this record grows higher each time
you spin it. If it had been released a couple of years ago, it would've been a classic of its
genre, worldwide. I'm curious to see this CD reviewed outside Norway. Monopot deserve some
recognition, simply because they've recorded the most fascinating and international record
in Norway this year.
Fine songs, beautiful arrangements, a crisp and clear production. The distinct bass and
rhythms are the driving core, supported by the most delicate and discreetly smart guitar sound.
Most of the stuff is recorded live in studio, which is quite amazing, since everything is so precise,
and sounding like it's been worked with for hours and hours (they probably did before "running the
tape" ...). The music creeps and crawls and sneaks around you, while you're sitting there awaiting
explosions in sound. Except that the explosions are so small and controlled (and pleasant) that you
don't even blink your eyes. Explosions of pleasure. Small pieces of musical painkillers.
Jasnaja Poljana (previously released as the b-side of the Once 7") is a perfect
instrumental tune gliding straight into next song, Pedestrian vs. Ground, and it's almost
like you don't dare to breathe. Then comes Once, which is an incredible song, elegantly
strolling slowly along, with the coolest guitar. It's like the song is taken out of some slow-motion
movie scene. Sheer beauty and well-being.
Monopot manage to keep the intensity without changing their path much, and, well, a
couple of songs is maybe a bit too anonymous. However they do have some "breaks", that makes
you re-start, such as Together we Make a Hole, which is a sample from Hüsker
Dü's Something I Learned Today (off the massive album Zen Arcade) The lyrics
are taken from the vinyl inscriptions (nice idea!) from all 4 sides of that classic double LP,
plus the following album New Day Rising, with lines like: "And now it is the visions of
a joyous hell, within the circuits that make pac-men die and vessels disintegrate". Serious
stuff, from a young and angry Bob Mould.
Most of the album is a pleasure cruise, with Monopot in charge of the cruise control. The
song Dronningen (The Queen) is put together by one Kaptein Kaliber, and is a pure
ambient slow-core-techno track, ending the album perfectly. But, there's more to come! After a
long break of silence (12 minutes sure is a long time, but, be patient, don't skip to #13, it's
worth waiting) there's a "dessert" song: Alien me Alien, which is my ultimate favorite
song. (I must have played this one a hundred times by now ...) The "grande finale" of the album,
sounding like Bedhead and Sonic Youth are playing together, supervised by some people from
Godspeedyoublackemperor!, slowly building a crescendo, before a sudden relaxation. Excellence,
A dazed, but far from confused record. The perfect cure for influenza.
This record is distributed by Voices of Wonder (Norway and Denmark), Border (Sweden),
Surefire (USA), Cargo (UK, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria), K-Raa-K (Be-Ne-Lux), and El
Diablo (Spain). Need I say more...Run. Buy. Play.
Copyright © 1999 Håvard Oppøyen