REVIEWS / Matins d'octobre

Thomas Bel and Monolyth & Cobalt (aka Mathias Van Eecloo) dig in similar sonic gardens, muddying their hands in soil that holds uncountable possibilities. I stumbled across Monolyth & Cobalt shortly after I first heard Thomas Bel, because after I find a musician whose work speaks to me in some way, I obsessively do my best to find more of the same. Bel has a track on one of Van Eecloo’s Clyde Parker Project releases (Four lengthy volumes of music featuring Monolyth & Cobalt collaborations with no less than 100 artists from around the world), so I bought that and discovered a whole new world of music. Bel’s work is more minimal and drone-based, and often brings to mind desolate (but beautiful) landscapes, while Monolyth & Cobalt’s approach strikes me as more claustrophobic, with pulsating glitches, fractured soundscapes, and calculated repetition, all of which bring to mind being trapped inside an alien machine. On this disc, the two approaches seamlessly meld into a strange, subterranean journey. Clear tones ring out against the low-end drones, while strange nocturnal shufflings provide texture. This is neither quite the morose grandeur of some of Bel’s solo works, or the off-kilter, halting glitchery of solo Monolyth & Cobalt. Rather, it is a hybrid, comfortably occupying the middle ground between the two. The five pieces on this 35 minute release fit together well, and when listening to them, I find myself unaware of the passing of time, as if I’ve stepped sideways into a space where time doesn’t exist, where it is always now. Both Bel and Van Eecloo are photographers too, and the packaging for this release includes some nice images of weathered doors (Bel) and persistent plant life (Van Eecloo). I’ve noticed that both artists always provide care and attention to the visual aspect of their releases, as well as to that of their respective websites. Buy the physical release, damnit!

(John Scharpen / Know deposit know return. September 2012. USA.)