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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Saltillo - "Monocyte: The Lapis Coil"

Artist: Saltillo
Album: Monocyte: The Lapis Coil (vinyl)
Year: 2012
Label: Artoffact
Genre: Electronica, Trip Hop
Website:  www.menton3.com




Monocyte: The Lapis Coil is basically the vinyl version of Monocyte, the new record from Saltillo. It features 3 songs from Monocyte, 2 remixes of tracks from Monocyte, and one exclusive song. It also has some really creepy new artwork from Menton3, the man behind Saltillo. Also it should be noted again that Monocyte is the soundtrack to a comic book that Menton3 has been working on, published by IDW publishing. Again, I don't have a copy of the comic, so I can't speak on how much this relates to it and fits as a soundtrack. If you are totally unfamiliar with his stuff, it is a dark mixture of gritty trip hop & industrial with a creepy old farmer/pilgrim vibe - think Rasputina and/or Children of the Corn, with distorted beats, melodies provided (almost?) exclusively by violin/cello/piano, and weird spoken word samples; occasionally there are female vocals.

Good stuff:
+ Saltillo has chosen some of the best tracks from the full length to put on the vinyl. "Proxy" opens things up with a good indication of what is to follow. It showcases his trademark style of gritty trip hop atmospheres, crunchy industrialized beats, and violin/cello/piano melodies. The next two tracks are new mixes of songs that appeared on Monocyte. "If Wishes Were Catholics (remix)" was one of my favorites because of the great female vocals. The new version sounds good; it's fast paced with frantic strumming and a quick moving beat, plus a nice calm breakdown with beautiful piano. The vocals are a bit too loud in this version, but overall it's solid. The next track "The Right Of Action (remix)" is a little less successful. The beat is faster this time and sounds kind of out of place with the melodic content. There is also some annoying glitching. It's not a terrible piece, and there are some good sounds and ideas, but it's one of the weaker tracks. "Gatekeepers" and "The Locus Priory" are both straight from Monocyte and are more brooding and atmospheric.
Really good mixture of layered violin and piano. I enjoyed them both a lot, however the drums are heavily distorted and come off as kind of muddy. The closing track is the exclusive "Necromancy". This track moves around quite a bit and, as such, has it's share of great and terrible moments: there is some really pretty melodic strumming, and a decent hip hop-y beat which fits with his style, plus a nice melodic breakdown, however there are several sections of really out of place and annoying samples from soul song(s) - it's like a really bad attempt at imitating Burial. The song ends completely abruptly in the middle of a word (at least the digital promo does).

Bad stuff:
- As with the full length, some of the beats are a bit too distorted and lose their punch and clarity which mixes oddly with the better recorded melodic elements.
- The remixes are ok, but not so great as to warrant buying both this and the CD.

An interesting record and fitting addition to the Saltillo catalog. If you are a fan of Saltillo and prefer vinyl than you should definitely pick this up. However, if you own the CD there isn't much reason to own both (and I'd choose the CD, honestly). As with the CD version, this one isn't as diverse as his previous release Ganglion, but he has a very unique style which he delivers on. Good for fans of very dark, gritty, industrial-tinged trip hop. Wish it had more vocals though.

Overall Rating: 7/10

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