The Velvet Monkeys trio (with rotating drummers) started as a minimalist art-rock combo—and one hears elements of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Nash the Slash, and Ultravox in what can be apprehended as their antecedent sound—and then proceeded to work outwards to a more denatured expansive body, picking up Split Enz, Pere Ubu, Buzzcocks, and Devo along the way. Maybe a bit of Talking Heads and Pearl Harbor and the Explosions as well. The result is still arty, sometimes a la Velvet Underground, but heavier, more insistent, and occasionally even Ventures-ish (!!), as in the killer The Creeper, a delicious return to a time when eerie outer-space spookiness was couched in post-Art Deco Bauhaus terms.
In fact, remember the epochal Iron Butterfly Theme by the esteemed metal outfit of the same name (yeah, the Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida hair farmers, those guys)? The Creeper is almost a grinning send-up of that, treading a tightwire between too-cool knowingness and geek anarchy tossed into your grandmother's teenaged fright night at the local drive in. Then Drive In ironically hits that exact theme, mellotronically eerie while mooning over the same lost years. Cool idea: mooncalfing over your progenitors' youthful delights—tres chic, monkeybonk hip, and hornrim cheaters savvy.
Everything is Right maintains the 80s DIY atmosphere of garagey funk, dragging it through five dimensions, using everything the group can lay its eager hands on: reverb units, volume shifts, antique amps, found sound, what appears to be some tape-splicing, and an array of other elder effects. Don Fleming even manages to rough up his alternatingly plain and then snarky teacher's-pet voice up into a semi-Iggy presence in the combo's theme track. Ya gotta love this kind of release, it's so damn off the wall but completely hip in the strangest counter-culture way, echoing 60s experimenteers like the West Coast Pop Art Ensemble and a bevy of other fearless psychedelic wonks. Released on their Instant Mayhem label, the Velvet Monkeys need to be picked up and curried by an established imprint before this kind of music, already half in the tar pits, dies out completely.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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