Really strong, multi-layered new album from Olan Monk, released on the C.A.N.V.A.S. label/collective of which he is a co-founder and featuring vocals from Maria Somerville and James K, plus additional mixing by Xao. Highly recommended if yr into John Maus, The Normal, Actress, Eartheater, Suicide.
In possession of its own unusual pace and styling, Love/Dead is a weird and brilliantly addictive gothic pop experiment that takes The Human League’s ‘Being Boiled’ as its starting point and builds from there in an asymmetric formation that feeds in elements from Suicide, Nine Inch Nails and John Maus, slows it all down and spits it back out covered in heaving subs, doom metal dynamics and distorted, angular electronics.
For goth credentials, Monk recorded the album between the west coast of Ireland and a coroner’s court and mortuary in south London, and if that seems a bit heavy handed - the music is anything but. Monk writes hooky, layered and memorable songs, something that’s so often missing from electronic music producers who mature (in the worst sense of the word) into working with vocalists as a mark of some dubious respectability.
Monk’s background isn’t in electronic music though, and so his imagination extends further out into the aether - guided by the three singular artists with whom he has already collaborated - Actress, Ashley Paul and Elvin Brandhi, with Actress in particular introducing Monk to electronic music “as its own process of creation, beyond production”. So although it’s the electronic treatments that startle, it’s Monk’s songs that hook and poke, making ‘Love/Dead’ a singular and strong addition to the C.A.N.V.A.S. label’s small but already beautifully formed catalogue of releases.