[sic] Magazine

MONK / KYŌGEN – Why Do I Love You?

Cosying up to White Hotel electro-rock terrorists and recent [sic] graduates MONK, comes KYŌGEN on this double-AA split tape specially commissioned for next month’s International Cassette Store Day (yes, it’s a thing). While the MONK trio mark the occasion by doubling down on their darkest grooves, KYŌGEN provides the yang to their yin, singer/songwriter Kyoko Swan (of Manchester indie-rock band PINS) offering up shimmering cascades of garagey dream-pop electronics.

Tying the two together is Dan Broomhall, gobby MONK frontman and KYŌGEN knob-twiddler par excellence. Forever leading Swan’s ethereal melodies off into temptation, he first corrupts the blurred-out guitar loops of “What Do You Think I Am?” with an undertow of bass tones, stuttering drum-machine snares and crackling reverb. KYŌGEN is a form of traditional Japanese comic theatre but, so as not to be outdone, here Swan brings the drama instead, her soaring vocal melodies riding through both emotive peaks and melancholy troughs. The heavy-hearted atmosphere continues into the dreamy “Somebody New”, Swan’s slow guitar twangs a neat counterfoil to her swelling, reverential lyrics and Broomhall’s micro-detail tick and bassy wub.

An altogether nastier proposition, and far less fragile than its track-title suggests, MONK’s flip first lays out a stream of serrated electro-rock rhythms on “Orchid”. Gouging away at the unwary as it barges past, it’s an uneasy churn of guitar and hard percussion that mixes like blood and water. Pushing the idea still further, “Smaller Than Small” is in turn then pure electro-punk noise. Establishing a punishing juggernaut groove early on, Broomhall yelps into the claustrophobic track’s artistic void throughout, an unhinged cry as much for help as it is for wanton destruction. A partnership made as much too in heaven as it is hell, MONK and KYŌGEN’s Why Do I Love You? is a question that provides an answer in cassette form only.

~The Why Do I Love You? EP is released October 12th 2019 via Ramber Records as part of International Cassette Store Day. Solo KYŌGEN material will follow later this year.~