Monokultur Ormens Vag

Mammas Mysteriska Jukebox
27th June 2022

Michael's Pick

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Format Info

LP - black vinyl

Limited repress, following two sold out versions.

Monokultur’s second LP, Ormens Vag, might have been the first brilliant, important underground artefact to have broken through the Brexit border shield back in early 2021.  Monokultur are a duo from Gothenburg who are prolific in their various projects (Loopsel, Skifthande Enheter, JJ Julius) as well as being integral to the city’s vibrant DIY scene. The mysterious, beautifully turbulent and poetic stew they let seep from their dual minds on this LP is probably the most instantly loveable music they’ve released to date.

The aesthetic dichotomy at play on Ormens Vag smashes an epicly sad atmosphere redolent of the outer reaches of 80s European Cold Wave, not the dancers but the end of this mortal coil the slow jams, with alternating sparsely fragile, melodic and tersely tense vocals performed by members Loopsel and JJulius. Loopsel, whose own record The Spiral is just in too, has a cracked, angelic voice that feels weighed down with preternatural sadness yet not barren of hope. It’s a rich instrument, underplayed and as heavy with atmosphere as the music. JJulius’s terse vocal is more in the post punk tradition, though spat or drawled out in a dry Swedish accent it’s probably way more ascerbic in delivery than the lyrics are.

Make no mistake, this album is going to feature highly on 2021 staff lists. There’s not many records that feel so completely hermetically sealed as this one, it’s like you’ve flopped through a hidden basement door in a decaying Gothenburg port building and emerged into a wide landscape, swirling lonesome winds and starlings heading home looping above you. The looseness of the playing hints at a yawning chaos at the edges, a primordial soup of restrained emotion waiting to spill out but on this outing more than any other music by the duo there’s a focus on structure and song. Some parts of the music remind us a little of Vini Reilly and Durutti Column, particularly the chorus-tinged guitar interplay and melodic bass, with obscrued samples peaking through the fog occasionally to suggest a cinematic quality. However, one of the most enticing qualities of this music is the fiercly confident nature of it; while the form might be frayed and distorted on its fringes Ormens Vag sounds like a complete, intentional statement. It’s real distorted beauty.

Probably the most defining element of this phase in Monokultur’s development is the embracing of more song structures and particularly the use of Loopsel’s voice. If Monokultur previously was a waking, nervous day-hallucination, Ormens Vag promises a whole new dreamworld that allows little slivers of light onto the grey landscape. Probably the first great DIY record of 2021.