Monday, 28 March 2016

MENIMALS – MENIMALS (Riot Season LP, CD. D/L).

Strange things are happening in Italy……..from that county’s thriving psychedelic scene come Menimals, a force of nature exploring the mysteries of chaos and creation. Shrouded in an enigmatic cloak of inscrutability, the four musicians are the sonic representation of the cosmic beauty and symmetry embodied in the Platonic solids, the classical elements of alchemy, and the symbolic animal spirits whose masks they wear:

The Rat: Drums/Hexahedron/Earth
The most stable element, the layer on which the other instruments stand.

The Chimera: Bass and Additional Guitar/Icosahedron/Water
Is complementary to earth and is the most mobile element.

The Griphon: Guitar and Production/Octahedron/Air
The water lies on the earth, the air lies in the surface of the water. Constantly flies between melody and noise.

Doctor Forge: Voice/Tetrahedron/Man/Fire
The most mutable and unpredictable element. May be a spark or a blaze. It carries the light. It's the lantern in the dark that shows the way.

Menimals' debut album is "a symphony of solids in five movements", a reference to the five shapes that make up the Platonic Solids and from which each of the Menimals was conceived. Behind the masks, myths and magic is a band whose improvisational investigation of Krautrock with strong ambient influences reflects an experimental worldview that reveals itself in the lyrics, visual aesthetic, and in the hypnotic live performances which are not just concerts but cinematic events in which they reconnect with the mysticism of nature. Breaking the boundary between men and animals, they interact with the audience through the psychedelia of their soundscapes. Live performances are rare due to the frail state of Dr Forge's health and the fact that he lives secluded upon another continent, North America, while his creatures toil in the hills of Northern Italy. This is quite a remarkable debut album blending together the dark ambience of experimental Psychedelia, free Jazz and Trip Hop as Dr Forge, with his scorched lungs and frail bones, weaves an archetypal story of the hero's journey through the five shapes related to the elemental root symbolized by each of the characters of Menimals.

From the known to the unknown, each unknown becomes a familiar -- a spirit-creature of mysticism serving as spy and companion and jester. In the music, the listener is given both solace and a challenge to transcend”. A looping, double bass line introduces ‘In This Unforgiving Heat’ as the Menimals' debut album opens with a track not unlike Barry Adamson’s future noir imaginary soundtracks. A dark trip hop flavoured track not a million miles away from the shadowy, bluesy ambience of Portishead, blending Middle Eastern motifs with a heady jazz vibe…………it’s psychedelic, but not in a conventional way. The sinister, ethereal Future Jazz feel of ‘In This Unforgiving Heat’ spills over into ‘Dodecahedron, The Window Sphere’……..again a track that evokes Portishead at their most experimental. Imagine if the whole 90s Trip Hop scene had been fuelled on powerful hallucinogens and not big blunts then you may possibly get a handle where Menimals are coming from on these two strange but beautiful opening tracks. There is a change of pace and atmosphere as ‘Tetrahedron’ is probably the most “conventional” Psych Rock track on the album and is a slow burning ethereal swirl of a song which builds and builds until sparking into a high octane flame-out of scorching guitar noise. ‘Transition From A Cube To The Octahedron’ is a dark psychedelic masterpiece…………………somewhat akin to the tracks Bill Laswell recorded with William Burroughs in the mid 80s, Dr Forge’s cracked, vocal gravel whispering spoken text over an minimalistic soundscape of guitar, abstract white noise and sparse percussion serves to offer up a rationale of knowing in an increasingly convoluted world. Closing with ‘Bird On The Wing As A Hinge’, another beautifully constructed soundscape of pulsing bass, synth drone and delicate guitar figures, although experimental in structure, melody is never sacrificed as Menimals open a gate through which Doctor Forge and the creatures he engineered deliver their luminous messages of myth and truth to the world. Although not redefining the genre, Menimals are certainly pushing hard at its edges with their unique style of mystic multi-media at a time where psychedelic music is in danger of becoming very conservative, taking any preconceived notion of what modern psychedelia has evolved into and tipping it on its head. If there is such a thing as a psychedelic rule book, Menimals have torn it to shreds after scribbling all over the pages. It takes a few listens for the majesty of this record to really hit home but for the more inquisitive Psychonaut spending time in Menimals world of magic and mystery is a must.

The Menimals debut album is another one of Riot Season’s occasional forays into the psychedelic realm…………………….released on 9th April 2016 and available in a super limited edition run of only 75 copies on black vinyl c/w insert plus a bonus CDr of the album when ordered directly from Riot Season. Available to pre-order from either the RiotSeason online store or their Bandcamp page at https://riotseasonrecords.bandcamp.com/album/menimals. The CDr along with a digital download of the album are both available separately from the same sources.


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