@planetmosh reviews Cobras and Fire (The Mastermind Redux) by .@monstermagnetnj on .@NapalmRecords
Almost a year ago I reviewed Milking the Stars: A Re-imagining of Last Patrol. Around the same time I had the privilege of interviewing singer and the creative force behind Monster Magnet, Dave Wyndorf. It was twenty minutes of conversation that left me sure I’d just been in the presence of the most imaginative person I’d ever spoken to. His ideas and the methods he described to me for completely reworking Last Patrol into an entirely new album seemed to really push the boundaries of originality. Fast forward to now and the creative juices are still flowing, this time resulting in a reworking of 2010’s Mastermind album. When I reviewed Milking the Stars I did it without listening to Last Patrol, taking it as a standalone, original release, so I’m doing the same this time. This isn’t a re-release, it’s a new album and I’ll review it like any other.
One thing I learned with Milking the Stars is that whatever you expect to hear, you won’t. Whatever’s been done before won’t appear here. You could describe Monster Magnet as psychedelic, stoner rock but that doesn’t seem to go far enough. Dave Wyndorf, along with band member and co-producer Phil Caivano is a man on a mission to push the envelope, break through boundaries and create sounds that have never been heard before. In this situation, with a re-working of an existing album you might find extracts that are familiar, but the arrangements, the instruments and the production are all brand new. Wyndorf describes it as, “a deranged fusion of garage-psych, fuzz punk and movie soundtrack music.” The original Mastermind songs have been re-recorded with the addition of instruments specifically chosen to add a totally new sound, including organs and sitars.
Opening track She Digs that Hole sets the tone, beginning with Dave warning, “watch out!” It’s fuzzy, trippy and the vocal is absolutely hypnotic as always. You can’t just have this on in the background, concentrated listening is compulsory. Watch me Fade is the shortest track on the album, unusually for Monster Magnet only three minutes long. It calls to mind the opening title sequence of True Blood, religious iconography combined with blasphemy in a kind of perfect oxymoron. Old fashioned organ mixed with fuzz guitar and Wyndorf’s preacher, yelling from the pulpit about the perils of modern life. Hallucination Bomb is a prime example of why Wyndorf is one of the best lyricists out there. His influences are many and varied and the resulting lyrics create something so real, but so bizarre that he turns the world into a twisted, graphic novel version of itself. Or as he puts it, “always sell your best hallucinations.” When the Planes fall from the Sky pushes the imagery even further, painting a picture of an apocalyptic future where, “the world burns,” in which we will only realise our mistakes when the end has come and it’s too late. And all this combined with a slow, rhythmic groove, Caivano’s guitar creating incredible tone and that Wyndorf vocal telling you when it’s all too late and the world is on fire, “then you’ll fucking understand.” I doubt anyone on Planetmosh has reviewed a Temptations track for the site before. Their 1969 track Ball of Confusion has been completely reworked for Cobras and Fire and is pretty much unrecognisable, with so many layers of sound overlapping. Wyndorf says it was influenced by Hawkwind/Pink Fairies and there’s certainly a Silver Machine vibe going on. The album closes with I Live Behind The Paradise Machine, a track created by mixer Evil Joe Barresi, which combines elements from several Monster Magnet songs into a single composition. The danger there is that it could’ve sounded like one of those ‘guess the songs’ radio competitions but instead it’s absolutely seamless. Cobras and Fire is released today and if you don’t buy it, you’re missing out.
She Digs That Hole
Watch me Fade
Gods and Punks
When the Planes fall from the Sky
Ball of Confusion
I live behind the Paradise Machine