Following on from the critically-acclaimed EP he released earlier this year, the new full length album from Paul Regimbeau (a.k.a. Mondkopf) is a stunningly brilliant album. Recorded in various locations in Toulouse in Paris, the album comes soaked in dark Gallic vibes, full of fear and anger, but also with moments of light and hope.
The ghostly chants and hums of 'Intrus' are swallowed up by by a rising tide of throbbing keyboards that give way to second track 'Deadwood'. With almost a glam-rock swagger to its beat, the pattern of stabbed keyboards builds and builds, surrounded by squelchy noises aplenty.
Three tracks in and the monstrous 'Day of Anger' appears, fooling you with gentle piano sounds which soon get swept aside by an insistent bass which heralds a musical riot inside your headphones, as pounding, insistent rhythms crunch their way round your brain before disappearing as quickly as they arrived.
'The Song of Shadows' is named after a poem by Walter de la Mare, which is quoted in the cd booklet, about how music can bring forth ghosts. This is a gentler track, with a bit more light and shade, that doesn't forsake the powerful beats but instils in them an air of hope. Ending with street noises that sound like they were recorded as a city awakes, it flows into 'Moon's Throat' which sounds like an extract from a sci-fi horror movie soundtrack, complete with spooky alien voice and celestial choir.
Next up 'Beyond The Golden Valleys' has some more intricate keyboard parts but is still pretty full on, full of phase and swagger. In contrast 'Sweet Memories', though not exactly sweet, certainly sugar-coats the pill. Its slower pace lends a more introspective feel to the track, but this feeling is soon blasted away by 'Girl's Don't Cry part II', particularly when the scary voice effect appears in the middle of the track. By the end though, as the aggressive keyboards give way to a more organic instrument sound, you might feel that the night terrors are over.
But you'd be wrong - 'Where The Gods Fall' picks you up and drops you straight back into a land of horror. Sure, there's a soothing break in the middle of it, but that's just the calm in the eye of the storm which soon whips back up. If 'My Heart Is Yours' is a love song then it's one that comes with a healthy dose of gothic melodrama, which feels refreshing at this point in the album due to the absence of stomping beats. The dramatic crescendo that builds through the song adds to the air of a doomed love-affair.
At 9 minutes long, album closer 'Fossil Lights' still has enough tricks up its sleeve to take the record to an interesting conclusion. Brief snatches of dialogue occasionally burst through the arpeggio'd synths and elevated melody line. The track is augmented by some male choral vocals and builds powerfully enough for you not to realise until the end that there's a complete absence of drums. Leaving you with a glimmer of hope for the future, the track ends, after the choir and keyboards have faded away, with the sound of a clanging church bell and a roosting crow.
An awesomely powerful record that manages to convey the anger, angst and spiritual poverty of our time, this is definitely one of the most essential purchases of the year so far.
You can get a free download of 'The Song of Shadows' by clicking on the picture of Mondkopf below.