EP Review: Public Transport | Monggrel
Monggrel’s latest ‘Public Transport’ is unlike everything I’ve ever reviewed before but here’s the interesting part: If I wasn’t a gamer, I might never had the chance to express myself about it! Let’s see why…
‘Barefoot Metro’ is opening Monggrel’s vision for this Extended Play, slowly burning like the ever-beating heart of a city, just enough to provide us with a sample of what’s to come. The style is Lo-fi hip-hop, urban, and gives off the feel of a Monday Morning. The city is waking up, its gears start spinning and its engines are preparing themselves for a productive week. The grainy effects here and there, like an old radio, bring an underground quality to the sound, beautifully contrasting with the futuristic atmosphere. Then comes ‘Old World Buzzard’ where we have a mystical, almost whining melody under solid, determined percussion. If personal computers had consciousness, that’s how they would mumble while dreaming in Sleep Mode. I imagine the track playing in a garage of the future, where a secret organization is operating with high-end equipment, interactive projections instead of screens and Led lights of blue and magenta. As ‘Sea Link’ starts playing we’re instantly transported into the minimal lounge space of an airport, maybe a hyper-real hotel building or even a time-travel facility where only high-class citizens have access. Some wind instrument is bringing a light breeze of luxury into a highly intelligent space, a multi-functional interior, designed under philosophies of both sharp geometry and organic, flowing shapes. If Futurism (the 20th century art movement that praised speed and dynamism) had a sound, ‘Sea Link’ would be an ideal fit.
‘Hindustani Brunch’ is coming to dispute my previous statement as the heaviest electronic piece until now, with stocky industrial elements and ethers similar to overly distorted human vocals, but they’re not actually human. This is how machines would sing in their digital language. If we were in the year 3000, ‘Hindustani Bruch’ would sound as primal as roaring dinosaurs would sound to us today. And then Monggrel takes us to the opposite side of history, away from technology and into primitive grounds with the earthy ‘Jaljeera’. A flute-like synth, even at its most distorted moments, feels like the most human touch so far in this progressive experience. The track is colored in a hue of bronze sepia, placed in the depths of an imaginary, post-apocalyptic India. Raw, primal, ritualistic in a way, ‘Jaljeera’ reminded me of my very favorite Forest Swords. Especially his earlier work rather than his latest.
The journey is slowly coming to its end with the homonymous ‘Public Transport’ that somehow keeps this ethnic feel going but more subtly, like a closure to ‘Jaljeera’, a bit more abstract and unsettling. The track never rests on one melody but goes back and forth, pausing and restarting with interchanging styles between something old and something new. It's like getting off a buss of the future to use an underwater metro line. A generation gap, a chasm between past and current technology. As soon as the electronic keys of the -Bandcamp Bonus- 'untitled' hit the ears, we are transferred into a game room with VR machines, some kind of Tron. The sounds are gentle, whispering the end of this experience with me returning to my prologue point to explain why -especially- a gamer would appreciate this album.
Monggrel’s ‘Public Transport’ has the quality and potential of a video game OST in the likes of Persona, Digimon, TokyoMirageSessions etc, taking place in Metropolitan cities like Tokyo. His music is food for the imagination of the listener, a creative challenge to visualize a future world around it and walk in it for as long as this EP lasts. It’s the perfect urban soundtrack of tomorrow and Monggrel made it happen today.