Monobody
Comma


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sunnyvale CONTRIBUTOR (25 Reviews)
April 24th, 2021 | 28 replies


Release Date: 04/23/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Soothing over spastic

The Chicago collective Monobody have been crafting intriguing music in an under-the-radar fashion for years. The band falls into a distinctive place in the musical world. To quote our esteemed colleague Dedex from his excellent review of Monobody’s preceding LP, “as one member put it during their Audiotree interview/show, most rock clubs would call their music jazz, and most jazz clubs would call them rock”. Comma is the group’s third full-length effort, following 2015’s self-title debut and the aforementioned sophomore effort Raytracing in 2018. Genre ambiguity is still very much on display with their latest album, and Monodoby once again wears it well.

As usual, the band continues to explore an impressive swathe of musical territory. One could argue that the group’s main touchstone is instrumental prog rock, occasionally sliding towards metal, but jazz and math rock are also critical elements of the band’s sound, and touches of post-rock make their way in too. In the past, the band’s songs have often been rather lengthy expositions,with different segments of each track leaning more in one direction or another. Monobody’s preeminent strength has always been their exceptional ability to mold these varied sounds into a cohesive whole, without any transitions feeling forced. While the genres influencing the band’s sound on Comma are still largely the same, the album nonetheless feels like a bit of a departure for the Chicagoans. This is because Monobody have tightened up the track lengths and made their songs a tad more straightforward. The results are an impressive clinic in sunny-day instrumental jazzy/mathy/proggy music.

The vibe on Comma is bright and resolutely vibrant, as typified by the gorgeous album cover. The music feels relaxed even at its most intricate, despite the band’s technicality at some points. To expand on the review’s summary, Comma sees Monobody exploring a sound which soothes, in direct contrast to the normally spastic nature of math-associated acts. The result is a master stroke of atmosphere, with the album crafted to be exceptional music for warm summer days. While the band has always had an atmospheric touch, the expansion of this aspect appears to be Monobody’s great innovation on their third effort. While the wide-ranging nature of the group’s previous output has been streamlined (to a certain degree), they haven’t compromised any of their essential virtues, and as such Comma is both their most accessible and strongest overall effort.

The band’s record label states that Comma is thematically inspired by butterflies, which specifically “represent the flowing, rise-and-fall dynamics of the 7 songs (all named after butterflies)”.With the tunes solely instrumental, there are no conceptual lyrics to be found, but it’s interesting to analyze Monobody’s work here through the lens of an exploration of the butterfly life cycle. The band gives us no weak tracks on Comma, but there’s a fair amount of variety, from the effortless jazzy grooves of opener “Eighty Eight” to the vaguely melancholy “Cloudless Sulphur” to the penultimate track “Harvester”, perhaps the album’s strongest, with its sublimely minimalist intro leading into smooth musical exploration which ends with one of the only moments here which approaches metallic territory.

At worst, Comma should be a serviceable album for accessible background music while the listener is focused on something else. The brilliance of Monobody’s sound, though, is that their music holds up well and significantly rewards closer listening as well. If there’s any justice, the band’s third LP should reach a wider audience than their previous efforts have. This is one of the finest albums of the year, and recommended to any and all music fans, given its genre versatility and engaging mood.



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user ratings (30)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2021


2274 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lovely little record, everyone give this a listen!

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2021


7817 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Hey nice, good review man!

I'll need more listens tho, on first listen I didn't enjoy it as much as the first two.

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2021


2274 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks @dedex! While this is my favorite they've come out with, I'm not sure if that will be the consensus view or not, I think it all depends on what "flavor" of Monobody you like the best.

WatchItExplode
April 24th 2021


8733 Comments


On my list for today

Digging: Sumo Cyco - Initiation

Ecnalzen
April 24th 2021


10828 Comments


I'm down for some jazzy rock

Will check soon

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2021


13918 Comments


from Chicago and never heard of this band, thanks for changing that Sunnyvale. great review!

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2021


2274 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks YoYo! Definitely a great band

elephantREVOLUTION
April 25th 2021


3012 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I got way into their first record but the last 2 have felt pretty bland

Tyler.
April 25th 2021


18370 Comments


this looks good

GreyShadow
April 25th 2021


4706 Comments


oh shit!!! didn't know these guys had an album coming out!
saw em with Invalids and The Planet You and they were THE vibe

Digging: Origami Angel - Gami Gang

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 25th 2021


37437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool album art. Front page is breathtaking right now if I might so say myself.



Great write-up too, will check this.

Digging: Squid - Bright Green Field

DadKungFu
April 25th 2021


1144 Comments


I just clicked on the review link to say the front page looks gorgeous today. Look forward to checking this out

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
April 25th 2021


2274 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Sowing! And yes, lots of colorful artwork

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 25th 2021


37437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is gorgeous. It's normally hard for me to get into instrumental stuff long-haul, so we'll see how this does, but I'm a big fan so far.

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
April 25th 2021


2274 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad to hear it, Sowing! Probably in my top 10 for the year so far

AtomicWaste
Moderator
April 26th 2021


2847 Comments


Got my pre-order, but need to listen yet. Vinyl on the way of course. Love me some Monobody.

Digging: Coevality - Multiple Personalities

parksungjoon
April 26th 2021


30897 Comments


hmm this isnt monolake

also wow atomicwaste livez

Digging: Make a Change...Kill Yourself - II

NorthernSkylark
April 26th 2021


11267 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sounds cool. Will check.

Digging: Klangstof - Close Eyes To Exit

butt.
April 26th 2021


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

In case y’all didn’t know, the drummer of this band is NNAMDI - you might have noticed some of his solo releases on here last year, he does hip hop/math rock type of stuff

WatchItExplode
April 26th 2021


8733 Comments


Pretty slick... I would be super content if I caught these guys at some sort of festival or farmers market or something.



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