Exposé Online banner

The Monochrome Set — 1979-1985 - Complete Recordings
(Tapete , 1985/2018, 6CD / 6LP)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2018-03-07

1979-1985 - Complete Recordings Cover art

The Monochrome Set is a band that I had heard the name of but never encountered their music. I believe that I first read about them through Archie Patterson’s early efforts with Paradox Music Mailorder in the 80s. That was when the band first formed and released their intial four albums. In 1985 they went on hiatus, reformed in 1990 and were active to 1998, took another break, had a reunion in 2008, and become active again in 2010 through to the present day. This February 2018 Tapete Records released a limited edition boxed set (500 CD sets and 700 LP sets) containing their first four albums Strange Boutique, Love Zombies, Eligible Bachelors, and The Lost Weekend, plus their 25 singles released over this same time period. This is quite a massive undertaking, with the music being just 20 minutes shy of four hours. So it would take a dedicated listener to sit all the way through the six CDs/LPs. So never having listened to The Monochrome Set before, this was quite a unique experience for me, not actually knowing what to expect.

The band’s name alludes to Yves Klein's monochrome paintings, but in contrast, their music is a polychromatic tapestry of sounds, styles, and music. Though they were part of the New Wave / Post Punk movement in England, that is not a fair characterization of their music. As you move from 1980’s Strange Boutique to Love Zombies to 1982’s Eligible Bachelors to 1985’s The Lost Weekend, you encounter a band incorporating a wide variety of influences and a minimal amount of synths, which was de rigueur of the times. What I hear roughly 40 years later are influences ranging from Wire, The B-52's, Julian Cope (The Teardrop Explodes), to Bauhaus plus R&B, West Coast psych, Gothic Western, dub, surf music, and rockabilly across the 68 songs in this set. But all these elements are integrated into something that belongs uniquely to The Monochrome Set.

Band leader Bid (Ganesh Seshadri) never went to college or art school, though The Monochrome Set is often regarded as the archetypal art school band. In addition to the numerous art references in their music, it is also apparent that Bid loves to play with words, writing some literary lyrics and puns, e.g. “I’ll Scry Instead” and “The Great Barrier Riff.” Then there is the song “R.S.V.P.” that consists of rhyming common French phrases.

So, if you are like me and have never experienced the early music of The Monochrome Set, now is a perfect opportunity to address that deficiency.


Filed under: Archives, 2018 releases, 1985 recordings

Related artist(s): The Monochrome Set

More info
http://shop.tapeterecords.com/the-monochrome-set-1979-1985-complete-recordings-boxset.h

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Rufus Zuphall - Outside the Gates of Eden – Rufus Zuphall is a German band from Aachen that first hit the stage in 1969. They released three albums in the early 70s and then disintegrated. Because of reissuing their albums on CD, there was...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues