South London electro-punks uncork sophomore stunner
Paradoxically deploying a formidable body of experience and mischievous longing to bring the spirit of the last century’s golden age of electronic exploration to cold modern times, South London’s Metamono are one of the few outfits operating today who can really be considered to be doing something new and fresh with their self-soldered array of analogue synths, ring modulators, sound generators, theremins and strange instruments constructed from discarded electronic detritus.
While conducting a parallel life as Kumo, Jono Podmore (Can’s aural archivist and Irmin Schmidt’s collaborator and son-in-law) along with fellow musician Paul Conboy and artist Mark Hill are steping up their carefully constructed mission on a more concise follow-up to 2013’s landmark ‘With The Compliments of Modern Physics’ debut. Interest had already been piqued by last year’s non-album ‘Dystopia’ single and the five LP tracks aired on ‘Secrets Of Nature’, the group’s live silent film soundtrack for the BFI, which proved perfect for the Metamono ethos as they sculpted music to go with the early 20th century documentaries that first revealed the processes of plant life and animal kingdom outsiders such as owls and cuckoos using untried photographic methods such as time-lapse, microscopic and stop-motion.
Even with that in mind, it’s still deliriously evocative and sometimes overwhelming to have the trio’s latest body of work, as opener ‘Cloth Ears’ immediately establishes Metamono’s ever-shifting template of pattering beat skeletons, surreal found-soundbites and dogfighting space-synth melodies. Having said that, the ethereal ‘Ugla’ comes on more like a cosmic jazz-funk symphony for the future before it pinballs off like a restless aural firefly trying to avoid a radioactive groper on a crowded space shuttle, seemingly enlivened by flatulence from a mashed potato ad robot.
Every track is an unfettered, unpredictable feast of gloriously optimistic noise, finely realised despite a manifesto which states they will never use a microphone, digital sampling or overdubbing. You can’t beat a thickly-textured analogue synth symphony and there are plenty of those afoot, interlocking, mating, squelching or bursting through the clouds like a radiant sunrise. Occasionally, they resemble their mates The Orb in the inherent sense of humour or way found voices pop up.
‘Cocooned’ is a weightless symphony for a new age, its reflective forest of glittering textures and falling electronic leaves glistening in the ether, before ‘Daddy’ kicks up jagged house riff shards and distended vocal clips. ‘Daft Bat’ is Metamono at their undulating, ever-morphing best, flashing, farting and establishing their alien inner momentum. This evocative mood continues on ‘Mr Smith’ (a celebration of pioneering early 20th century filmmaker, Percy Smith), whose slinky stroll gets splattered with the luminous excrement of soaring birds, spatial swirls and crashing ghost chords. Meanwhile, ‘Birth Of A Flower’ spaces out with sparse keyboards motifs over glistening pulses (as a perverted gopher warbles in the bathtub). Halfway through it drops to tin tray crashes and threatens to take off into euphoric disco.
Every track’s a winner, packed with surprises, but combining to forge the most gloriously idiosyncratic and mischievous set you’ll encounter all year. Using their arcane set-up, Metamono manage to make the sounds which should dominate the future, introducing vital warmth in those often cold machines. Maybe this is the real 21st century punk sound.