From Monument to Masses

This night was one of threes. The three-man band from three edges of the US manages to bring together a vast array of influences whilst retaining a strong feeling of ingenuity. From Monument to Masses’ songs from their upcoming third original release (excluding the album of re-mixes) provided some interesting new additions to their set, with the band expressing the fervour and intensity that typified their tour three years ago.

The third band on that night didn’t really need to do much to top those before them. Whereas Wayter were unfortunately rather bland, The Munroe Effect seemed to provide no real support to the main act. They seemed two odd choices to put alongside a band considered a ‘band’s band’ often thought of as major movers in combining math-rock, hip-hop, post-rock and post-hardcore: a real inspiration that went unnoticed by these two.

A quick bit of background… FMTM’s collective mentality on music production extends to every part of their work. They prefer email interviews so that all three can confer on responses in order that no one member’s voice is heard over another’s. Similarly they have no lead-singer, instead opting to borrow the voices of revolutionary figures and characters (occasionally using gang-vocals to great effect). Their song writing displays a high level of synergy and syncopation that allows each member’s contribution the space to be heard whilst working towards an energetic off-beat conclusion. This is mirrored in their production style as well, live and recorded. The band’s seemingly minor sound problems were taken seriously but in good humour. And even these were centred around their desire to place each part on a par with the other.

What was seen in Camden was an example of finely tuned excellent musicians in action. New tracks like ‘Beyond God & Elvis’ flowed easily into old favourites from their self-titled EP and The Impossible Leap… Mathew Solberg’s guitar work uses loop pedals on a par with Ian Williams (Battles), at times having three parts working in unison, but works in Ian Mackaye’s thrashing style within each song. Francis Choung occasionally moves away from his drum set to work on synths and programming, and when at his set his jazz-influenced rhythm shifts from Don Caballero to Explosions seamlessly. Sergio Robledo-Maderazo’s keys and drums add another layer of complexity, while bringing in RATM bass work into the mix. I wonder if it says something about the nature of music production that FMTM’s collective approach sounds so individually distinctive, achieving what only a handful of others have.

The band cite the Refused, Fugazi, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and DJ Shadow amongst their greatest influences in their ability to combine a political ideology within the context of their musicianship. I would agree that these bands stand in a sparse field of being distinctive in their collective outlook and achievement. And perhaps it is apt to end on the words of the Refused: “How can we expect anyone to listen if we are using the same old voice? We need noise…” FMTM really do heed this call. So do as they ask: Listen, question, act, repeat.


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