“In the ancient Chinese land of Ao-lai, on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit was a magic rock. This rock gave birth to an egg which hatched into a stone monkey. So begins one of the great classic Chinese works of literature, Journey to the West, written around 1550 by Wu Cheng-en.” With Monkey King, electronic music composer and a Cal Arts teacher since 1971, Barry Schrader, aurally tells the story of this intelligent animal’s birth and long journey to become a buddha. The CD’s five long tracks pulse out a veritable smorgasbord of musical challenges. Midnight drones provide a bed for all kinds of other sounds to bounce off of. Pinging shaker rhythms, cascading synth ruffles and stabs, drilling or echoey shimmers, rhythmic machine guns and static, reverb hits, gong storms, tolling bells and plenty of other drama suddenly gives way at various times to a stately stasis or a light flitting of uplifting effervescence. Then it all builds to swirling climax, occasionally interrupted by subtle touches of melody, or, alternately, hammering shimmers. Just when you start to hope the journey will never end, a sharp aluminum slash kills it all dead. If you’re a lover of minimal synth excursions, this disc will breathe new life into your listening day–whether you’re a man or a monkey.
Text ©2010 Arcane Candy