So here’s me expecting The Mon to be a product of a maniacal Scottish ego. Imagine my surprise to find that it’s an alter-ego of Urlo, bassist and vocalist of Italian heavyweights Ufomammut: and, far from that trio’s cosmic crescendo, Doppelleben (Shadow Kingdom Records) is far more introspective and pared back.
Despite this, opener ‘Hedy Lamarr’ begins with psychedelic swirls, spaced-out keys and colossal bass notes that rattle the brain. The difference here is the lack of brutalising drums; the omission of a huge riff, instead a pedal-assisted guitar chord briefly splits the rich undertow with crackling ferocity.
‘Salvator Mundi’ follows, more earthshaking bass the undercurrent for pensive, icicle-drop keys and ghostly whispers, whilst a hi-hat is tapped like dripping water throughout. Striking and imposing, it’s an apt introduction for the saviour of the world. It’s also enough to determine the album’s template: ‘Hate One I Hate’s oscillating depth pulsing under sparse tear drops. Here metallic shrieks, samples of harmonica and brief flashes of guitar emit stark isolation, swelling and adding to the tension while the sloth-like pace continues unabated.
The wonderful ‘Blut’ has an eighties Industrial synth feel, a squalling guitar and tinny beat driving a Depeche Mode-esque pacier track with Urlo’s delicate whisper evoking images of Alcest’s trance-like verbals. The rotor-like pulse of ‘Relics’, whilst maintaining some of its predecessors’ ingredients, paints an eerie canvas: a slow yet portentous mantra given added strength and meaning with a bleak riff and howling leads. With even more intensity ‘Soulloop’s, well, loop pounds through the mind as grinding, squealing effects compete with spectral fragility.
There are many soft elements to be found within The Mon’s soul. ‘Her’ is a spacey, Beatles influenced drift through the sky, remaining heavy yet dripping with a breathed melody, its dainty oration dwarfed by various keyboard tweaks and brittle piano, with piercing guitars littering the coda. The closing title track is again a soundtrack through space, haunting keys accompanying an ear-splitting swell of atmospheric noise and sending the rocket upon an emotional, breathtaking Ambient experience.