fri 10/07/2020

CD: Monzen Nakacho - Necropolis Spaceway | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Monzen Nakacho - Necropolis Spaceway

CD: Monzen Nakacho - Necropolis Spaceway

South coast synth wizard's second album delivers a punchy, tuneful electronic odyssey

No life on Mars

Monzen Nakacho is an old and distinguished part of Tokyo that’s renowned for its nightlife. It’s also the moniker that Worthing musician Gary Short has given himself for his 21st century keyboard wizard persona. Short’s output has been called “giallo synthwave” because it owes a certain something to the music of 1970s Italian horror films, most especially prog band Goblin’s synth-driven soundtracks to the movies of Dario Argento. With his second album, however, he has upped the ante and moved well beyond his influences.

Almost entirely instrumental, except for light vocoder vocals layered into the twitchy electro stomper “At the Terminus”, Necropolis Spaceway has plenty in common with Seventies sounds – John Carpenter would be another reference point – but, unlike Monzen Nakacho’s eponymous debut, this music has a techno power and orchestrated oomph that makes its presence felt, a density and attack.

Things open with the Gary Numan-esque nigh-on-eight-minute title track and the first half of the album showcases a moody confidence, tension-building big pieces that slowly bloom to a stridency which brooks no argument, notably on the stormy “Spacehearse”. There’s a a proggy sci-fi theme running through things, but it’s a grand dystopian robot drama of some kind, reaching its apex on the four part “Planeto de Mortuorum” suite, which is noisy, droney and threatening in places, but also redolent of the old BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s more melodic longform work.

The album ends with “Sapling”, whose delicate, bell-rung, waltz-time opening seems to indicate a quieter sign-off until it explodes into opulent orchestrated drama, possibly the album’s best track, and an indicator that Short may still have petrol in the tank for wherever he’s off to next.

A micro-release from an under-heard artist, Monzen Nakacho’s second album is, nevertheless, one that should be sought out by connoisseurs of classic modular synth fetishism running crash-bang into the epic, crunching capabilities of today’s technology.

Below: watch a twenty minute Monzen Nakacho live show (filmed from behind but good sound)

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