Music Reviews

Artist: Mensimonis
Title: Clone Fever
Format: CD + Download
Label: Opa Loka Records
The story of how Radboud Mens and Lukas Simonis came to work together as Mensimonis is remarkably prosaic. Both independent audio experimenters in their own right, they both helped run recording and improvisation workshops in secondary schools, whereupon they found themselves on stage performing together in front of a bunch of teenagers who, they say, preferred playing “a stupid game on their iPhones” to listening. It’s a refreshingly unpretentious beginning.

But unfortunately, the story behind it is arguably more remarkable than the sound itself. Simonis runs spontaneous guitar notes and short patterns which are sustained through feedback until the result is a thick soup of guitar drone that carefully tip-toes towards howl-round but stays under control. The more electronically-minded Mens meanwhile is generating deep drone tones that sit underneath, much of it slightly buried in the mix and supplementing the overall tone.

While long tracks are never a problem, the succinctly-titled 22-minute-long opener “The individual is handicapped by coming face-to-face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists” doesn’t quite warrant its own duration. There’s not enough progression, nor is there enough detail in the sound, to sustain interest for that long. Second track “Few believe me when I tell them that the rulers of this planet are of reptilian bloodlines” is less patterned, a more consistent wall of electronic drone and hum with occasional hints of metallic industry.

“Give the clone a soul, god is watching over your shoulder” is a little bit more twinkly, with the bass tones lolling around in space vacated by stripping back the guitar feedback, and the gentle balance is certainly more palatable- the strongest track of the bunch. Final track “All rumors being investigated” brings plain and persistent rhythmic guitar twanging back to the fore in a slightly more ingratiating fashion, but shifts towards the familiar feedback drone in the second half more successfully.

This is one of those extended drone releases with such a steady hum that when it finishes, your ear begins to feel alienated, as though it has normalised this music as its new base level. While it isn’t spectacularly innovative or eventful on the surface, it’s a coherent and simple package of long drones that will take your thoughts into a different place.

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