2016 has been an interesting year in terms of retro styled rock; particularly the sounds of the 70's and this summer has introduced us to some fantastic music; most of which have embraced the stoner riffs and camper van attitude of that decade to great effect. Monarch have delivered something different, and more measured, and they do it with 3 guitarists.
Title track 'Two Isles' opens things up with a punchy intro before gliding into something more rhythmically, in keeping with a soulful Jazz vibe, this is aided by the vocals of Dominic Denholm and Brian Ellis's spacious production.
'Hundreds, Thousands, Millions' has more of that relaxed feel but introduces a signature guitar sound, that runs throughout the record; it's reminiscent of the Allman Brothers, for sure, yet actually works well in cementing the bands own very distinctive sound.
'Assent' is a warm and rich track; harmonious in tone and demonstrating some beautiful guitar sounds and textures. For me, it's certainly one of the records many highlights. 'Dancers of the Sun' follows the similar line and summertime, doped out glow. Things take a different turn with 'Sedna's Fervor', a heavier track that grows into a great Prog-Jazz beast and shows another facet of the bands approach.
The album closes with 'Shady Maiden', a marvellous 10 minute long epic that shifts tempo and styles, from tight beats to cosmic jams with ease, whilst still finding time for that brilliant guitar technique.
Monarch have recorded something quite wonderful here; this is a dusky record with all the elements of hazy, smoked out, sunny, Californian evening. El Paraiso say "It's about mood and texture as much as it's about the ROCK, and might just be the perfect companion for travelling somewhere, physically or mentally"; I won't argue with that.
Two Isles is available from El Paraiso Records; get in quick to buy the limited red and green merge vinyl.
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Buy Two Isles from El Paraiso Records