I'm always suspicious of a CD when I see a quote from Pete Tong on the front cover, and there it is on the front of this Munkie album, 'Progression'. Thankfully though, it's not another crap dance compilation.
Basically a one man band, with that man being Jason Clark, the album is a mix of different styles and techniques, all loosely based around the down tempo electronica scene populated by bands like Air, Hybrid, Boards of Canada, etc. Indeed the press release makes sure that you know the name of the Scottish duo before anything else. However, where Boards of Canada make blissfully weird ambient soundscapes, Munkie is far more up-tempo, even bordering on pop in some parts. Not such a bad thing, but you get the idea that Munkie is trying to be something he isn't...
On tracks like 'Collision (Sunrise Mix)' and 'Shadows Of Black' Clark is at his peak. Mixing acoustic guitars with tripped out synth atmospherics and 808 programmed beats; it's an exciting mix of all things musical. Including guest vocalists on tracks like 'Arbitrary Love/ Hate' and 'Dreams (Are There)' it gives the record a more human feel, making the album seem less cold and calculated.
On a first listen, 'Progression' sounds more like Hybrid remixing the new Air album, but other, more varied influences manage to permeate through the endless use of atmospheric chords and dreamy synth sweeps on repeated listens. 'Bright Rays Of The Sun' is a reggae-ish number, complete with snatched guitar chords and booming beats, and 'Panic Attack' is a claustrophobic electro noodle, complete with breathy vocals from singer Kate Peters. The only real nod to Boards of Canada comes from track five's lethargic 'Ghosts In The Machine', a lazy, dreamy slice of trippy electro.
With the title track, and also the aforementioned 'Shadows of Black', Munkie manages to make another genre reference with the blistering none-more-weird beeps and blasts, an obvious hello to Warp records and their roster of fucked up cut and paste artists. Still making it sound somewhat listenable, it's an interesting two or so minutes.
It's a very interesting and in parts exciting piece of music that Clark has here. The only down side being that it's too long in places. Some songs could do with a healthy chop here and there, cutting them down to a more palatable size. That's not to say that all of his stuff has to be a radio friendly three minutes, but the tunes start to grate after the four minute mark, with no real change in them. Still, it's a promising debut, with some solid tunes and some good ideas. There's just no need to keep copying and pasting!