At almost fifteen years strong now, Berlin-based label Project:Mooncircle has become an authority for left-field, ‘cerebral’ electronic music. In a sense born out of the dominance techno music has in the city, its releases chart an array of ‘post-’s, drawing from a melting-pot of electronic influences, often to a dark but meditative effect. It’s latest export comes from Samuel Evans, aka Rain Dog, who follows his acclaimed debut Two Worlds with his new release There Be Monsters.
At 16 tracks long, There Be Monsters is a comprehensive catalogue of disparate moments, perfect for long, thoughtful walks. Supposedly inspired by the David Foster Wallace quote “Loneliness is not a function of solitude”, there is certainly a feeling of solitude and observation, if not voyeurism, in the way that it in its calm glitchy execution it catches glimpses of sounds that in someway don’t belong entirely to Evans — or to us. Indeed, the second track references this quote directly, and is one of the most powerful tracks on the record. Its bathing synths approach the listener emotively from behind whilst the cut-off female vocal samples seem to bounce the feeling back.
Evans has previously produced soundtracks for documentaries, and his cinematic eye and ear continue to lead the progress of There Be Monsters, paying particular attention to intricacies which make his production stellar and intelligent. Despite it’s experimental approach it’s entirely listenable; sitting near the middle is “Who Do You Love?”, one of the most interesting cuts which blends dub and drum’n’bass influences, whilst “Hierlera” is a sparsely composed piano intermission is gorgeously delicate and kissed with a touch of melancholy. Indeed, the record coherently flitters on the edge of melancholy and contentedness, blending the two as if they’re indistinct. Closing track “Marianne” itself blends naturally back into album opener “My Hands Make Shapes”, and as such it’s easy to get lost in Rain Dog’s journey.
There Be Monsters is quietly mesmerising, if not a little bewildering, connecting passages that don’t fit with the totality and comfort of a puzzle piece, but the final picture complete regardless.