Sandalphon by Mono Life

Two years in the making, Mono Life’s Sandalphon album is finally here. Has it been worth the wait? I think so. An air of darkness suffuses the album.

Mono Life’s first album Phrenology was a cracking collection of electronic tracks, with shades of Orbital and Daft Punk. Teasers started coming out in the autumn of 2015 of the next album. Then it all went quiet. Mark Osborne-Lawn turned into DiY superhero in the meantime but nothing further on the album until the start of this year when he started promising to deliver. And finally it’s arrived. On the time this album took, Mark says “Sandalphon started from half a dozen track ideas and a couple of 75% complete songs. I recorded the album in three separate sessions over an 18 month period. It felt like the right thing to do, I had a sound and flow in my head, it just took the best part of two years to make it happen.”

As for the album title, Sandalphon (Hebrew: סָנְדַלְפוֹן ; Greek: Σανδαλφών) is an archangel in Jewish and Christian writings. The album gets off to a great start with The Science of Love and Deception, which in chemical terms is norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. But in musical terms is a blast of neo-motorik techno bass buzzing which could come from Leftism-era Leftfield or Swastika Eyes era Primal Scream. Would sound awesome on a serious sound system. This is followed by Phantoms which follows a similarly dark, but more techno, path.

The track Sandalphon marks a change of gear. A more contemplative, soaring electronic mood arrives. This discards the big beats for something more synth driven and suffused with space. Beats return on Radiate but that more reflective quality remains. Synths bounce around in a dub style. A gentle musical smile. While the tempo remains that mood fades a little with the more digital and robotic Monochromatic.

Arrival may start with beats but drifts off into something light and verging on the downtempo / ambient. That sets the way for old favourite Crockett and Tubbs. Originally, a Miami Vice Harold Faltermeyer 80s synth concoction this has been given a darker, sleeker retooling. Still owes a lot to the 80s but is no simple pastiche. This leads us into album highlight Stars. A disco-infused track with the sample of “when there were no stars in the skies that night.” This is a classy French house tune (a bit like his earlier Disco in Paris tune). A proper club dance round your manbag tune.

A further change of direction on Ultra, with the buzz of guitars giving it a Deep Purple Highway Star dub vibe. It’s one of those that builds and builds and goes down a storm at festivals. Under pain of a bad review, I forced Mark to pick his favourite track on the album. Eventually he says “I’m not sure if I have a favourite track, although Dusky is a track that I’ve been working on for four years…it only came together along with the other tracks for the album after being put to one side for a year.” So what’s it like? It’s a spiralling good time tune that works wonderfully well in my kitchen. Has that instantly euphoric rush achieved with Falcons from the last album.

The album closes with the orchestral and cinematic The End (Keep Smiling). A curiously downbeat ending to the album, which perhaps deserved something more emphatic. But if you want dark ambient in which to wallow about the futility of existence, then this is your song.

Mark says “The big difference with this album was that I set out to record an album properly.” And he’s achieved that. This is an album of coherence and mood. That mood is primarily dark, and on things like The Science of Love and Deception that totally works. But there are enough elements of light and shade in things like album highlights Stars or Dusky to provide some starglow in the darkness. Available now as digital download or limited edition CD.

iTunes – LINK

Amazon – LINK


~ by acidted on May 15, 2017.

One Response to “Sandalphon by Mono Life”

  1. I need to get this, loved the first one.

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