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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 38 - 11/23/99

Monopot
Something is Like Nothing was
Smalltown Supersound

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, nothing less.

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 e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Monopot articles/reviews: Optipess, So What!, Oslo, 23.03.2000, Taran EP.

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