As you may already know from such historic bootleg recordings of impromptu sessions between the likes of Prince and Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Johnny Winter, the idea of great mindAs you may already know from such historic bootleg recordings of impromptu sessions between the likes of Prince and Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Johnny Winter, the idea of great minds coming together behind closed doors is nothing new in modern pop, regardless of how piss sloppy the results turn out.
For longtime fans of XTC, the lineup of Monstrance is their equivalent to a secret take of George Harrison and Paul McCartney jamming on the sly in 1995, trying to come up with something between "Electronic Sound" and "Liverpool Sound Collage." After 25 years on the outs, Andy Partridge and original XTC keyboardist and Shriekback charge Barry Andrews reunite here, along with Shriekback drummer Martyn Barker, amid two loaded discs of unedited drone music.
There are moments when Monstrance creates pure ambient storms of guitar, keys and drums. In other words, "White Music" this ain't. There are tracks, if you can call them that, just as ominous and enveloping as anything Explosions In The Sky and Mogwai are doing, albeit with less care for melody or structure.
Elsewhere, the music cools down to an acid noir groove, led by Partridge's Frippitronic guitar flourishes. Andrews gets all Silver Apples on the keyboards here, zoning like he is scoring the most bizarre monster movie of 1969, while Barker lays down the law by reliving his days providing that brooding bottom end as a de facto Bad Seed. "Monstrance" is what a lot of our favorite musicians do when we aren't looking. Only thing is, Partridge, Andrews and Barker were kind enough to give you access to their hidden chamber. -- Ron Hart