The Upshot: If their entire back catalog is like a little bag of colorful jellybeans, Monastic Living would be the weird, black one in the bag.
BY BARRY ST. VITUS
Some time around late summer, it occurred to me that there hadn’t been anything new from Parquet Courts recently, which led me to dial up front-man Andrew Savage to see what was up with the band.
Andrew acted both a little surprised and suspicious sounding when I started probing about upcoming projects. As it turned out, they had just wrapped a recording and were about to do another one very shortly, but, he was reluctant to give me any info about the recent project, or the label, other than saying it would be a late fall release. Very mysterious.
I emailed a contact at their PR outfit to probe a bit more into all this, and was again rebuffed for info, all very hush-hush and top secret. I think I recall finding out from someone that it was going to be released on the iconic Rough Trade imprint in late November. At the beginning of November, I got a pre-release to audition and was a bit set back on my heels by what I heard.
When these guys blew onto the scene a couple of years back, they flabbergasted everyone with their sprawling talent and ability to recreate impressive impressions of a multitude of classic punk bands from over the years. The constant comparisons to many of those bands seemed to annoy, nay, irritate them more than anything else, which may have led to this EP.
With nine songs and a running time of just 33 minutes, the bulk of the album is instrumental, except the first, short, opening number, “No, No, No!” a stormy, shouted rant. The title song, Monastic Living, is broken up into parts 1 and 2 and run about 6 1/2 minutes each. Two other numbers, “Vow Of Silence” and “Prison Conversion” also are long-players, with the other five songs clocking in at just over or under a minute. Tracks 3 and 4 combine to sound like a three-minute cover of the entire Metal Machine Music album, jagged, industrial noise-punk. The songs are all rather abstract, angular or just plain angry for the most part, an obvious departure from what has come before. There’s some electronica at play here and there, that brings Young Marble Giants and the Gist to mind. The eight minute closing tune, “Prison Conversion” has overtones of the chaos, noise and feedback in “Sister Ray,” and is a standout entry here.
If their entire back catalog is like a little bag of colorful jellybeans, Monastic Living would be the weird, black one in the bag. With other song titles like “Vow Of Silence,” “Alms For The Poor,” and “Poverty And Obedience,” there’s an obvious theme at play, which leads me to wonder if the EP is a soundtrack for something like an animated piece or a play.
I recall that their next release is dropping in the spring, and I suspect it will be more in line with their previous material. However, if you love the black jellybeans, this project might be to your liking.
DOWNLOAD: “Prison Conversion,” and “Monastic Living I.”