Benjamin Grant DePauw — Monkey Village
(Ursa Minor UM 0312-2, 1996, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1997-02-01
Can an album be too diverse? Monkey Village opens with two minutes of beautiful ambient angelic voices, then kicks into the six minute title track, a funky pop tune in a very commercial vein, complete with backup singers and horn arrangements... but the same track ends with a minute-long montage of short voice samples with droning synths under it all. A very interesting and innovative ending. "I'll B There" is a similar situation, although the basic track is a lot more interesting, with a repetitive voice sample continuing throughout the song's duration. The domestic quarrel between a man and woman (two full minutes, in fact) that occupies the space between "Goodbye" and "Dying of You" is in fact quite disturbing. DePauw plays nearly all of the instruments: guitars, basses, piano and keyboards, and drums, as well as being the main vocalist. His vocals are not bad, although they do seem very commercially oriented at times, and every word seems to be enunciated out to the fullest; it's the guitar playing that is clearly his forte, and he pulls off some pretty impressive crunchy metallic licks on several of the tunes. Numerous guests are used throughout — backing vocals, flute, cello, horns, percussion etc., all used sparingly, but to very good effect. A few of the tunes are purely instrumental, and when combined with the innovative use of electronics, as on "Fluorescent Coalescence," the result is some of the album's most powerful and stunning moments. Indeed, this album is extremely diverse, ranging from funky pop stuff like that sounds pretty close to Prince, out to more soft-pop tunes like "Free @ Last" and "Dying of You," to several shorter interludes that are very progressive and innovative. Hard to say who will like this; I've listened to it nearly ten times now, some elements of it are very cool (especially the beginnings, endings, and interludes), others (especially the very commercial pop tunes) I really dislike, but even at that one has to give DePauw credit for a job well done, and the ability to work in so many radically divergent styles.
Related artist(s): Benjamin Grant DePauw
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