Chasing the monkey… An Exclusive Track-by-Track Guide of Make Me Young, etc. by Michael Woodman of Thumpermonkey

In a Progradar exclusive, Michael Woodman, the vocalist of Thumpermonkey, has written this track by track guide of the band’s new, full length, album – ‘Make Me Young, etc.’

1) Veldt:

This was written ages ago – in about 2010.  It was one of those songs that just sort of popped out complete, but then stayed in demo form for ages until we decided we had a release that the song would fit with. It’s a song about using other people to help push you out of a preoccupation with negativity. It’s about relying on somebody to point out that the things you find toxic or shameful about yourself aren’t really that big a deal. It’s a ‘note to self’.

2) Cranefly:

I once tried to stay awake in an attempt to reset my body clock after flying back from getting married in New York – so I occupied myself by writing riffs. When I woke up, the verse for this song had appeared on my hard drive, though I have no recollection of writing it. Unsurprisingly, I ended up with a song, in part, about insomnia. Hearing the verses now, still makes me think about that state of not being in touch with reality when I’m really sleep deprived.

3) Figstorm:

Another very old piece of music – Rael wrote the piano part years ago – it was just waiting to find a home with this album. It’s about the disorientation experienced when crossing the boundary between fidelity and infidelity in a relationship. There’s even a paraphrased bit of Alan Bate’s monologue in ‘Women in Love’ for good measure.

4) Buttersun:

There’s a definition I read of ‘liminality’ that I really liked – the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of ‘rituals’ when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. Veldt is about crossing from self-loathing to self-acceptance. Cranefly is the boundary between sleep and wakefulness. Figstorm is fidelity and infidelity. To take this even a stage further, ‘Buttersun’ is a threshold in the middle of the album – the split between songs about internal things and external things.

5) Deckchair for Your Ghost:

This song started life referencing a nightmare I had about trying to hide a body underneath a tree in our front garden, but then it became a vehicle for a character – one who has just been cursed with the knowledge of an impending extinction level event. I had an email from a fan in about 2012 who had clearly been reading some of the nonsense I post about Aztec theology, and he seemed pretty keen on the idea that the world was going to end. I’m sure it was all meant in humor. I didn’t hear from him again.

6) Make Me Young, etc:

The title of the song is the last line of dialogue delivered by Kilgore Trout in ‘Breakfast of Champions’. It’s what he says to Kurt Vonnegut, (who has entered his own novel as a character), purely for the purposes of letting Kilgore Trout know that he isn’t real. This is a song about the end of the world.

7) Tempe Terra:

A mournful post-human coda. If any humans do escape earth and colonise Mars to start afresh, there’s always the fear that they’ll bring all their awful conceptual baggage with them and make a mess of Earth Mk2 as well.

The album was released on 26/10/18 and you can order a copy here:

Thumpermonkey – Make Me Young, etc.

Artwork and photography by Ashley Jones.

FOLLOW THE BAND
Website: http://thumpermonkey.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thumpermonkeyband/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thumpermonkey_
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/Thumpermonkey
Bandcamp: https://thumpermonkey.bandcamp.com
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6uPhRxSHY9UWiyuImpE8e9

Review – Thumpermonkey – Make Me Young, etc. – by James R. Turner

‘Make Me Young, etc.’ is Thumpermonkey’s  first full length release for a while, the elusive and eclectic quartet announced their musical return last year with the stonking ‘Electricity EP’ (check out the review at the link at the end) and since then they have performed a barnstorming set at this years Eppyfest in Cheltenham (where their unique brand of music went down a storm), mixing their older material and new stuff created a vibrant and room rocking kind of set.

I mention Eppyfest because it was all thanks to Ian Fairholm that I saw them back in 2014 in Stroud, where their inventive and complex musical prowess, their emotive and powerful set and their sheer innate musicianship drew me in. Off I strolled at the end of the day with the two CDs on offer, 2010’s ‘We Bake Our Bread Beneath her Holy Fire’ and 2012’s ‘Sleep Furiously’.

Both albums are as eclectic and eccentric as the band are live and I am fully aware that the kind of sonic origami that Thumpermonkey creates is very much a marmite sound, you either love it and enjoy them or it passes you by. That is fine, not everyone likes the same thing, and I wouldn’t expect you to change your mind only 200 words into this review.

However, as a reviewer who gets quite a lot of stuff sent to me from various places to listen to, I would rather receive one album like this than half a dozen generic middle of the road, let’s make an album that sounds like 1974 Yes or 1976 Genesis because we’re prog and it’s what we do, if I want Yes circa ’74, I will go put ‘Relayer’ on.

This isn’t the sort of record that you can put on in the background. Very much like their live show, Thumpermonkey request you pay attention, and from the get-go, the opening salvo of Veldt, they grab the attention, and pull you right in.

The overriding theme of the album is an impending apocalypse (in this instance based around an asteroid hitting the planet), which, based on the way things are going in the wider world, may not be far off the mark, particularly when we seem to have world leaders who think that Threads was a manifesto and not a warning.

This flows throughout the music here, and the four piece manage to create some truly expansive widescreen sounds, with the beautiful interlude of Buttersun fitting between two wonderfully intense pieces of music, Figstorm and the intense and brooding Deckchair for Your Ghost.

The way the Michael Woodman’s vocals soar and glide through the music is a joy to behold, and they are treated as much as an instrument as his powerful guitar work, mix in Rael Jones fluid keyboard and guitar work, add the drumming powerhouse that is Ben Wren (who can flit between the soft and the heavy at the drop of a (hi) hat) and Sam Warren’s bass, that is as much of a lead instrument as Woodman’s guitar, then you have one of the most inventive musical quartets around at the moment, fitting into that area of music that is occupied by bands like Knifeworld or The Fierce and the DeadThumpermonkey are very much their own musical genre.

The title track builds and climbs to it’s crescendo, where the mantra ‘Take this useless sadness and throw it away’ acts not just as the climactic coda, but also an instruction, a life hack if you will, something that resonates with you long after the song has faded.

They mix widescreen cinemascope sounds, with big riffs, piano sound to die for, and an overarching concept that never feels forced or shoehorned into.

Very much like the best films and plays, the narrative drives and unfolds across these 7 tracks and it is an album that rewards, nay demands, repeat listening (luckily, I’ve been enjoying it on the commute to work through my headphones, so I am there, immersed in their world and sound).

This year has seen a strong bunch of albums from artists like Regal Worm or The Tangent, who have looked at musical boundaries and decided to ignore all of them, and this is one of those albums.

It sounds like nothing else out there, other than Thumpermonkey, and it’s a sign of how right this album is that now, as us reviewers are starting to think arbitrarily about those pesky ‘best of’ lists that people like so much, that I can say for a fact that Thumpermonkey, with the ‘Make me Young, etc’ have released one of the best albums of 2018, and it was well worth the wait.

Released 26th October 2018

Order the album from bandcamp here

Artwork and photography by Ashley Jones.

Read James’ review of the ‘Electricity’ EP here:

Review – Thumpermonkey – Electricity – by James R Turner