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FireMonkey — Puzzlebox of Antipop
((Not on label) no#, 2005, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2006-05-01

Puzzlebox of Antipop Cover art

This is essentially a one-man project operating in the same general realm as Bill Nelson: pop songs with elements of prog and avant thrown in. Lyle Holdahl is the man behind the monkey, covering guitars, vocals and various other vaguely credited duties apparently including keyboards and programming. Holdahl may be unique in listing both King Crimson and ABBA among his influences, though honestly the KC is harder to detect than the ABBA. Intelligent 80s pop along the lines of XTC, Oingo Boingo or Talk Talk is another reference point. The vocals range from closely recorded pleasant tones to Primus-style ranting, and the instrumental parts all serve the tunes rather than the musician’s ego. The songs have a tendency to take unexpected turns, like the odd little interlude in the middle of “Skulk” with its off-kilter synth tone and meandering melody. The contrast between surface appearance (simple technopop) and true intent (sonic experimentation and twisting of expectations) is a recurring motif. There’s a bit of the kind of sterile sound you often get with one-man projects, though Holdahl seems to take that limitation as a virtue and run with it, reveling in it rather than trying to hide it.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2005 releases

Related artist(s): Lyle Holdahl (FireMonkey)

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