As Lonely As Dave Bowman – Monolith (2015) – A brand new project from Sam Rosenthal of darkwave legends Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Monolith appears to be a bold new direction that appears to take a slight stab at the wondrous atmospheres of another legend, Steve Roach. In fact, Roach fans will notice the ethereal nature of this material almost immediately and I ultimately feel that they’ll be delighted by it.
My initial listen for the album was in of all places, a local Wal-Mart. I was doing some grocery shopping, which is something I usually do with a soundtrack in order to stave off the monotony and In all honesty, Monolith just happened to be one of the first albums on my playlist at the time. At first I had no idea as of what kind of music to expect – was it going to be more creepy tunes like “Knock Three Times” and “Scarecrow” or perhaps something more poetic in lieu of “The Lie That Refuses To Die?” Perhaps it would be something both dark and atmospheric, like in the vein of Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s earlier releases such as Remnants Of A Deeper Purity or As One Aflame Laid Bare By Desire…
At that point, Monolith could have very well been anything. But I believed in Sam Rosenthal enough to support the Kickstarter project, and he thanked me enough by giving me the addendum to what is already a seventy-eight minute trip into the unknown. Yes, you heard me right. Monolith is definitely not the kind of record album that you’d listen to in a dark, candlelit room with a grimiore opened as you began stroking a black cat. (But you always could do that if you wanted, of course.)
Rather Monolith seems something a bit more otherworldly, and I definitely do not recommend listening to the record whilst doing anything mundane. Trust me, the rest of my Wal-Mart excursion became quite baffling as I seemed to go in and out, halfway between a dream world and the well-polished tile floors. I’ll also be brutally honest with you, as I completely forgot what I was doing and where I was going for that matter. The music completely took hold, and it would not let go. But should we even consider such an atmosphere “music?”
Music to me is defined as something that you can enjoy, whether it be tapping your foot, dancing, banging your head or otherwise. But Monolith isn’t that kind of experience, and it’s not geared towards the casual listener either. Monolith seems far from the Taylor Swift-isms of the modern musical enclave and feels like something from a higher plane of transcendence entirely. Our journey begins with “Failure Of The AE-35 Unit Radio Antenna 7:23” and it sounds like what most people would expect to hear from the higher realms after they’ve departed from this one. There’s something truly crystalline about its sense of mesmerism, as one wonders if this might be the backing to what could surely be the energy presence of their loved ones in a corporeal and far different state of being, as they are welcomed into that which exists beyond the world of all we know on this planet. The dreamy feeling does not continue however, as something far more unnerving takes its place.
I do not feel that it is an unwelcome feeling, just something more spatial and less friendly. “Moon-Skimmer 18:01” then begins, as the cold winds of space lap up against one’s legs and only the distant, yet slightly metallic cries of the universe itself can be heard outward. Those cries become muffled and allow for near-silence, which feels like a sort of meditation. On the other hand, “Maneuvering Over The Jupiter Monolith 6:51” sounds like something completely different and made me feel really odd as soon as it hit. Keep in mind that I’m still pushing a shopping cart as these weird reverberations are echoing inside my skull, almost with a gelatinous sense, as if some gooey alien sensation is trying to pry its way into my cerebrum.
The album ends (or begins again, I rather should say) with “A long, dark corridor filled with lights. A memory. And then a bright room with air. 40:44” which is, as you can see; longer than most full-length albums on its own. Though this is the final song on Monolith, it really seems to be the meat of the project. Though extremely difficult to describe, I’ll just say that this experience seems to culminate the listen with everything from pleasantries to extraterrestrial atmospheres, which in the end do not feel quite so heartwarming. But it sort of reminds me of the old adage, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Though that’s not to say that the record is terrifying, for I never truly felt that from it. Instead, I feel it is an intriguing meditation meant for astral travel and like Steve Roach’s works, it will whisk you off into a completely different world altogether.
If you choose to support the Kickstarter project (which has since funded) you will be given another forty minutes of music in the form of Monolith Addendum. In addition to an early remix of “Moon Skimmer” and an alternate ending in the form of “A Bright Room With Air 6:18” you’ll also receive twenty minutes of new material like the airy “Jupiter Mission 11:41” and the robotic “TMA-1 Greets The Lunar Dawn 3:19” which is an approach unlike any that you will hear on this entire release. Since the Kickstarter project has successfully funded, you’ll now be able to pick up a physical copy of the record (which was the main goal of the fundraiser) in addition to the digital copy, which you can currently still download for free from the Kickstarter page. (We’ll even stream it here, if one is put up and we are granted access to such a privilege.)
But do not think of this as a marketing review, as that’s just not what I do here. Those who have lurked between the gritty and grimy walls of The Grim Tower should very well known by now that atmospheric releases are something I very much revel in and enjoy. We’ve had dozens of artists in the past who’ve given me an atmosphere that I’ve recommended, sometimes even in the form of a short story. I can honestly say that I am truly intrigued by the work here on Monolith and I truly hope that we’ll get to hear even more great music from this new act As Lonely As Dave Bowman (whoever Mr. Bowman might be) as well as Black Tape For A Blue Girl in the future. I’d be happy with more from either, as Sam Rosenthal and company prove that they’re still talented composers regardless of musical aim and genre.
You can pick up your physical copy of the limited edition version of Monolith and show your support for the record right here:
(5 Tracks, 78:00)