17 May 2016

Monomyth / Exo (album review)

Exo is the third full-length release from the Dutch rock outfit Monomyth. It’s the final chapter of the trilogy started by 2013’s Monomyth and 2014’s Further. They describe their sound as instrumental space kraut stoner rock, which is probably the only combination of words that do their sound justice. They sound somewhat like what Mogwai would sound like if they’d dispose completely of all the melancholic piano bits and dialled the spacey bits and the heavy bits up to eleven, but their sound should honestly just be experienced by yourself. Preferably live, but this album would suffice too as it does a great job of showing what being at a Monomyth show is like. Which is to say, it’s completely awesome.

It all starts with the immense, nearly fifteen of Uncharted. The sound of rainfall provides a calm start while softly purring synths and jangly keys quickly take over. It’s a complete rollercoaster of a track. It just builds and builds and the tension doesn’t let up until the final second. The faster paced Surface Crawler is six minutes of awesome riffage, which is a nice change of pace after the unrelenting build-ups and tempo changes of the previous track.

Apart from the bizarrely great riffs, the thing that stands out most about this record is the impeccable pacing. The highs and lows tempo-wise are perfectly sequenced, really making you feel like you’re riding the world’s most psychedelic rollercoaster. Hence, the next track ET Oasis starts off all soothing, before blowing your face off with heavy riffs in the back half. It serves as a nice prelude to the absolute best track on the album (as well as the lead single), LHC. Like Surface Crawler, it’s basically non-stop riffage, but where that track settled in a great, but slightly monotonous groove, this track is constantly changing tempo and just gets more intense as it goes on, for ten minutes.

Album closer Moebius Trip is the only slightly disappointing track on the record. At just under six minutes it’s the shortest thing on here and therefore it lacks a bit of the impact the other songs do have. In the sequencing of the album however, it works perfectly as a comedown from the madness of LHC. Therein lies possibly the greatest strength of this record; while the five songs on here are clearly individual compositions they all blend together beautifully, creating the perfectly paced 45-minute space rock odyssey of your dreams. Exo serves as further (pun unintended) proof that whatever it is these guys are doing, it’s never less than thrilling. Here’s hoping they don’t call it quits with the closure of their trilogy, the world desperately needs more Monomyth.


Words: Reinier van der Zouw