Last year I was presented with an interesting review offer: The Real Tuesday Weld’s The Last Werewolf (review), which was the soundtrack to a book of the same name. The concept of a soundtrack to a piece of literature was something very unique and interesting to me and, while I was not able to read the book, I was still able to understand how the story of the album complimented the story of the novel. Now, I’ve been given a very similar chance. Saltillo’s Monocyte is an album that is meant to complement the IDW comic book series of the same name. The comic is grim, violent, and features some astonishing artwork. But does the album have that same attitude? Does it bring music that compliments the same dark atmosphere that pervades within the comic?
In short, yes it does. What you have here is an album that could be best described as E.S. Posthumus meets Nine Inch Nails. Much like the comic, the album has a strange dichotomy between the synthetic (e.g. programmed beats and electronic textures) and the organic (e.g. strings and pianos). It’s difficult to tell if each song has a battle or a marriage between these two ideas, but the end result is that it works far more often than it doesn’t.
If Wishes Were Catholics is a prime example of this struggle. Beautiful female vocals are lain gently atop a string quartet while static-y programmed drums are mixed underneath. As the song progresses, the vocals become auto-tuned. Normally, this would irritate me, but here it worked as an effect to make the natural evolve into something synthetic. This was only confirmed a bit past the middle of the song when the vocals were run backwards.
Another track I enjoyed was Hollow, which features a dark trip-hop beat and heavily reverbed strings. With elements of Portishead, this track definitely appealed to my darker side.
In a strange way, this album could be treated like a Cronenberg film. It has moments of beauty but there is always something sinister and foreboding lurking underneath, peering from the shadows.
The Final Word: Having read the both issues one and two (review) of Monocyte, I really do feel that Saltillo’s accompaniment album is a wonderful fit. If you have read the comics, or have any interest in them, make sure to pick this album up.