For a deeply cathartic psychedelic soundscape, look no further than Monastics’ World Island.
Available this week on El Gran E Records, World Island is a reunion of sorts of the formerly NY-dwelling experimental Monastics (which includes guitarist Jeremy Hurewitz, of whom regular readers here would recognize as Rootless). During the pandemic, the now geographically-scattered musicians and friends began recording remotely, trading files and eventually piecing together an entire record.
This is a very much a pandemic album, from its inception to its entire mood and atmosphere. The music, which is often a blend of field recordings, ambient and psychedelic folk music, perfectly mirrors both the individual and the globally communal response to the initial lockdown.
The record begins with a couple woozy, disorienting tracks that combine surreal manipulated vocal samples with tense acoustic strumming and electronic beats. This intro to the world of the album is riddled with anxiousness and confusion, much like we all were in those heady days of the stillborn spring of 2020.
Yet, the album eventually gives way to meditational moments and more hopeful sounds, like the Popol Vuh-like “Taste The Blood.” As we slip into another semi-lockdown from yet another COVID variant, it’s important to hear these more optimistic songs. Tracks like “For K (Parts I and II)” glow with warmly drifting synthesizer melodies and comforting recordings of things like rain and crickets. The ending the album, which includes the soft sounds of a downpour in a residential Beijing alleyway, especially feels like a spiritual cleansing. It makes you feel refreshed and ready to see the light of another day. It tells you that the future may be bright after all.
For a relatable and healing musical experience, get your copy of Monastics’ World Island from El Gran E Records on cassette or digital today.