Review Summary: Martin Gore's been bored. Good.
Asking a capuchin artist named Pockets Warhol to paint the cover art perhaps sums up the sledgehammer subtlety of the monkey themes running through this, Martin Gore's second release under his MG moniker. Excused from the pressures of penning another Depeche Mode album by the pandemic, The Third Chimpanzee
sees Martin exploring the blurred line between humans and their simian relatives. He holds back from supplying vocals, instead conjuring up a soundscape fit for a dystopian futuristic setting, all edgy electronics, pensive synths and discordant squeals. Immediately noticible is the departure from the purer techno of his first solo release 'MG'
and a focus on the sorts of atmospheres and textures that bubble away under any Depeche album, even going so far as to supply quite a few melodies, although there are enough spattering beats to make this a rather more dancable affair than you'd expect. Mandrill
perhaps just edges ahead of the rest, an aggressive tour de force of jarring menace, while opener Howler
treats you to a chugging wall of riffs before letting you down gently into an evocative keyboard line that could be straight out of any bleak 80s sci-fi movie you'd care to mention. Capuchin
skips along to a fantastic bass line and manages to be dark yet quirky, even playful, a welcome sign that Martin's having fun and not in danger of taking this business too seriously. Vervet
has an ambience that shimmers and builds up slowly over its eight minutes, but remains eerie and interesting enough to avoid outstaying its welcome.
acts as a rather ethereal reprise, and wraps up the whole thing very nicely indeed. To those of us who thought that his first offering MG
felt a bit overstuffed, The Third Chimpanzee
has variety and atmosphere that could have been extended by maybe just a few more tracks. Still, this EP gives you a taste of Martin Gore's geeky electronic talents in a refined form, uninterrupted by lyrics, pop sensibilities or prospective stadium tours. It's not a wild sojourn into the musical wilderness, but it is
a welcome distraction from someone who's been in this business for far too long to produce anything subpar. The Third Chimpanzee
manages to rise a little way above being merely a curious trifle; so much so, you can't help but wish that Martin had thought up a few more monkeys.