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Monkey Plot: Here I Sit, Knowing All of This LP

HUBROLP3583
 
HUBROLP3583
 
Release August 26
 
 
LP+CD iTunes/Apple Music Tidal Spotify
 
 

 
On their third album the guitar, bass and drum trio Monkey Plot are going electric again after having cultivated a purely acoustic sound for several years. Their music still evokes an impression of intimacy, although the band’s roots in rocking improvisational music now come more clearly to the fore.
 
When Monkey Plot was founded six years ago, they were a rough and earthy electric guitar trio before pulling the plug and deciding on a totally acoustic sound. Now they’re plugging themselves back in again, but with a very different expression than they had six years ago.
 
The group’s acoustic music was designed for small rooms: living room music. On their new album they have moved down to the basement. Their music still suits small spaces, but the volume is turned up and the energy is different. But rather than presenting raucous, noisy rock-club improv, they have developed a kind of ambling, makeshift form of expression, which is their own unique sound. Recognisable and new. Challenging, but accessible.
 
Monkey Plot have been described as having revitalised Norwegian improvisational music, and improvisation remains their tool of choice in forming their music. The material on Here I Sit, Knowing All of This has been carved out gradually in the course of several years of interplay and improvisation. The band toured extensively in Europe and South American in the past year, and the many concerts have obviously taken their interaction to a new level. Monkey Plot’s first album, Løv og lette vimpler, was released on the Gigafon label in 2013. The following year the band was pronounced “Norwegian jazz musicians of the year” and won a grant from Gramo, Norway’s performing rights collecting society.
 
The Swedish poet Pär Thörn has collaborated with the band at a number of concerts and on a cassette release. He reads his own poem on the track “Kalla Handen” on the album.
 
Here I Sit, Knowing All of This was recorded on analogue tape at Athletic Studio in Halden, and was mixed by Jørgen Træen at Duper Studio in Bergen.
 
Tour:
7/9 Playdate, Landmark, Bergen
17/9 Folken, Stavanger
23/9 Big Dipper, Oslo
24/9 Nonfigurativ musikk, Tønsberg
30/9 Airegin, Yokohama
1/10 Nardis, Kashiwa
2/10 Haretara Sorani Mame Maite, Tokyo
3/10 RAG, Kyoto
4/10 Mokkiriya, Kanazawa
5/10 La Sone, Jyoetsu
6/10 German Cultural Center, Tokyo
7/10 German Cultural Center, Tokyo
8/10 German Cultural Center, Tokyo
30/11 On The Edge, Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo

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Reviews:

  1. Det er noe eget med band som ikke står stille. De er nemlig i bevegelse, og bevegelse er en forutsetning for å komme videre. Monkey Plot har tatt seg inn i det elektriske på «Here I Sit, Knowing All Of This». På fjorårets «Angående omstendigheter som ikke lar seg nedtegne» var de fremragende akustiske. Kvaliteten til Monkey Plot handler imidlertid ikke om elektrisitet eller treverk. Christian Skaar Winther, Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard og Jan Martin Gismervik har sin egen estetiske retning de følger. I et intervju jeg gjorde med Winther i fjor, antydet han at trioen ikke hadde klart å gjøre noe kult med det elektriske. Den tiden må definitivt være forbi. Monkey Plot er et band som trives i det udefinerbare. De kan sette en fengende melodisnutt i sentrum eller la kompet være sjef. Trioen er sterkt kollektiv, samtidig som hvert enkelt medlem vinner fram med egenart. Bandets evne til å holde seg til én idé for å la denne få tømme seg, er god. Slik kan Monkey Plot leve med det tilsynelatende enkle. Det er også slik at instrumentene er likeverdige. Derfor er ikke dette bandet en gitartrio i konvensjonell forstand, slik vi kjenner disse helt tilbake fra 60-tallet. Noe av idéen ligger nedfelt i selve det soundet de skaper, og selv om dette ikke er helt uten forbilder i no wave-historien, står det på egne bein. I 1977 platedebuterte det amerikanske bandet Television. Anført av gitaristen Tom Verlaine, skapte de et nedstrippet sound som har påvirket mange. Det er fint å høre hvordan en selvstendig norsk trio peker tilbake mot New York på 70-tallet. Det er også sånn at musikken på «Here I Sit, Knowing All Of This» hadde tålt en vokalist, men den trenger det ikke. Uten vokal trer musikken fram i fullt lys og full nakenhet, og det er nettopp dette utilslørte som gjør den attraktiv og annerledes. Side to starter med «Kalla Handen», der den svenske avantgarde poeten Pär Thörn leser utdrag fra sitt eget dikt, en tekst som for øvrig står å lese i boka «Mutationer av Anna-Greta Leijon». Dette innslaget skaper et brudd i albumet, samtidig som det representerer en fortsettelse av et samarbeid Thörn og Monkey Plot har hatt over tid. Pär Thörns underfundige betraktninger blir en del av bandets krokete spill. Til å være et album med både el-gitar og el-bass, er musikken forbausende myk. En viktig årsak til dette er Gismerviks trommestil som sjelden eller aldri oppfordrer de andre til hyl. Monkey Plot har gjort det igjen: overbevist meg.
    - Jazzinorge (N)

  2. I guess Monkey Plot is a jazz band. The trio all studied at The Norwegian Academy of Music, they’ve received a price at Moldejazz, they’ve released a record with Norwigan free jazz legend Frode Gjerstad. And they play improvised music! But Here I Sit, Knowing All of This, the new album released by Hubro, a label specializing in exactly this kind of genre crossing music, doesn’t really sound like jazz at all. The acoustic chamber jazz of the trio’s previous two albums is replaced with electric guitars and driving drums. It’s not exactly Bob Dylan going electric, but it is a definitive change of pace and a turn towards rock.

    There’s a lot of 70′s rock worship going on in Norwegian jazz at the moment, much love is given to hairy power chords, wide legged poses and proggy excess. Monkey Plot sets the dial of the time machine to the following decade. On some of the tracks on this record Christian Skår Winther’s guitar tone sounds eerily similar to something Thurston Moore could’ve cooked up in 1985 or so. The songs are short and to the point, behaving almost like proper pop songs, but they are also performed with an exploratory looseness. I guess that’s where the jazz comes into play. The song “Kalla handen” features the Swedish poet Pär Thörn listing up things that are cold, from cold hands to The Cold War. This warm and inviting album could never fit on that list.
    - Luna Kafé, Thor Erik Johnsen (N)

  3. Sześć lat temu Christian Skår Winther (gitara elektryczna, akustyczna), Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard (elektryczny bas, kontrabas) i Jan Martin Gismervik (perkusja) zaczęli od rockowego grania, jednak szybko z tego zrezygnowali na rzecz akustycznych brzmień z rejonu muzyki jazzowej/improwizowanej. Można powiedzieć, że ubiegłoroczny ich krążek „Angående omstendigheter som ikke lar seg nedtegne” (recenzja) był swego rodzaju podsumowaniem akustycznego oblicza Monkey Plot, bo najnowszy longplay „Here I Sit, Knowing All Of This” jest powrotem nie tyle do układania stricte rockowych riffów, ile do elektrycznego brzmienia. Monkey Plot, podobnie jak Moon Relay, grają instrumentalną muzykę. Choć ci pierwsi czasami zapraszają do współpracy szwedzkiego poetę Pära Thörna, którego głos i wiersz możemy usłyszeć w utworze „Kalla Handen”. Pozostałe nagrania układają się w zwiewną, eteryczną i bezpretensjonalną mieszankę alternatywnego rocka z naleciałościami (nie lubię używać tej nazwy) indie rocka. „Here I Sit, Knowing All Of This” bez chwili wahania stawiam tuż obok płyt Tortoise, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth czy The Sea and Cake.
    - Nowa Muzyka (PL)

  4. Vielleicht zum Andocken an den Planeten Hubro für Leserinnen und Leser dieses Periodikums eine der besten Gelegenheiten: Das Trio, das in den letzten Jahren vor allem akustisch agierte, hat wieder die Verstärker angestellt. Und auch wenn geschrieben steht, Monkey Plot seien eine Jazz-Band, spielen sie hier doch feinste Instrumental-Music nach Rock und Hardcore, die mehr als einmal an die spröden Gitarrentexturen von Sonic Youth erinnert, man an Polo, an diese behutsam abgezirkelten, komplexen Rock-Methoden, in denen zu hören ist, wie sehr es auch darum geht, den Fallstricken von Rock im klassischen Sinne zu entgehen, einmal übrigens erweitert um die Lyrik von Pär Thörn, was natürlich auch ein Weg ist, dem Testosteron-Schock vorzubeugen.
    - Trust (DE)

  5. Appena un anno dopo, “Here I Sit, Knowing All Of This” sposta totalmente le coordinate, già a partire dal titolo in inglese e in maniera inconfutabile nel contenuto delle tracce. Il loro cimento è qui totalmente rivolto all’indie americano degli anni 90, come raccogliessero i sedimenti strutturali del math rock e di tutta la corrente post-, asciugandoli di ogni eccesso per tentarne una sintesi minimalista. Un garbato gioco di riff che non sfociano mai in una netta distorsione, a differenza degli esordi di stampo noise-rock che precedettero la prima puntata “unplugged” nel circuito impro scandinavo, che a questo punto potrebbe anche rivelarsi una breve parentesi nel loro percorso. La verità è che le undici tracce scorrono davvero bene senza incontrare mai significativi inciampi.
    - Ondarock (IT)

  6. The third album from Monkey Plot guitarist Christian Skår Winther, bassist Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard, and drummer Jan Martin Gismervik signifies a return to electric form following a largely acoustic period. Here I Sit, Knowing All of This is no abrasive, high-decibel throwdown, however, but rather an intimate set that sounds a bit like sketches Television might have developed in the studio before adding Tom Verlaine’s vocals. There are moments on this explorative album when Winther’s multi-tracked acoustic and electric playing makes the Norwegian trio sound more like a quartet than trio, too.

    With six years of playing under their collective belts, the band is a tight unit that locks into a groove with ease, even if it’s sometimes an intricate one. Eschewing power trio conventions, the members downplay soloing, preferring instead to function as a multi-limbed entity whose participants are equally integral to the collective sound (yes, the guitar does generally assume the lead melodic role, but it’s more by default than anything else). If one had to start somewhere, “Dry Ground” would be as good a place as any, given how effectively the bass-and-drum pulse underpins the range of tremolo and scabrous snarl Winther coaxes from his guitar, though “Kalla Handen,” with Swedish poet Pär Thörn intoning one of his own texts alongside the band, can’t help but be ear-catching for including a voice element.
    - Textura (CA)

  7. Plutôt méconnu chez nous, le label norvégien Hubro alimente depuis quelques années son catalogue en belles découvertes de son pays à ranger par défaut au rayon “jazz” et “musiques expérimentales”, genres à mettre entre guillemets tant tout et n’importe quoi peut parfois se définir ainsi. Proposant aujourd’hui un panel assez fourni d’artistes confidentiels que l’on suivra avec intérêt, le label possède aussi un esprit défricheur qui finalement justifie bien son nom: “hubro” signifiant “hibou” en norvégien, ce fameux oiseau nocturne et nyctalope. Mieux voir dans la pénombre de cette grande jungle qu’est la production musicale afin d’y dénicher quelques pépites invisibles, voilà un beau programme que le label rempli ici pleinement.
    Présenté comme un trio de jazz, Monkey Plot vient quant à lui apporter au label une dose bienfaitrice et vivifiante d’électricité rock qui n’est pas sans rappeler quelques grandes figures de l’indie rock. En onze morceaux intrumentaux d’excellente facture, Here I Sit, Knowing All of This présente à sa manière une compilation exemplaire de tout ce que l’on affectionne tant dans un certain rock dit indépendant. Aventureux sans être abscon, dissonnant sans être inaudible, sophistiqué sans être démonstratif, minimaliste sans être creux, l’album arrive à éviter tous les pièges d’un rock instrumental que l’on penserait “arty” et un véritable capital sympathie se dégage de l’ensemble.
    Ainsi pour l’utilisation déviante de ses guitares on pense souvent à Sonic Youth, lorsque le groupe était en partie pris sous la houlette des compositions savantes de Jim O’Rourke (“The Couriers”, “Shyly Upon Everything”). On pense aussi à Fugazi pour l’énergie contenue de certains morceaux, ou sur d’autres à Tortoise pour une forme de groove décalé (“Here I Sit, Knowing All of This”) mais ces influences quelque peu écrasantes sont balayées fissa par une fraîcheur laissant deviner un groupe constitué de membres bien plus authentiques qu’il n’y paraît, loin des bons faiseurs. L’album sait par ailleurs inviter la poésie à sa table comme en témoigne le beau spoken words “Kalla Handen” sur lequel le poète suédois Pär Thörn vient lire ses propres vers.
    Avec ses ritournelles lo-fi légèrement biscornues, Here I Sit, Knowing All of This est un album empruntant également au jazz une certaine technicité mais celle-ci reste toujours au service des compositions, notamment lorsqu’il s’agit de tricoter des toiles harmoniques à deux guitares, ces dernières étant magnifiquement entrelacées. Pour toutes ces raisons, Monkey Plot signe là une pure merveille se hissant parmi les meilleurs albums de rock instrumental de l’année.
    - dMute (FR)