The Monks Kitchen – Music from The Monks Kitchen (Wonderful Sound)
Six years after their debut mini LP on 1965 records, The Monks Kitchen return with “Music from The Monks Kitchen” on Wonderful Sound. Sharing a label (and scene) with the magnificent and folky John Stammers should certainly be no hindrance for them, and they carve their sound from influences spanning decades and both sides of the Atlantic, from Simon and Garfunkel, Bert Jansch and Woody Guthrie, to the ancient folk/blues of the Smithsonian Folkways sets.
The collection of 18 tracks takes the format of song/instrumental throughout. The instrumentals encompass dark skiffle (“Dark Ramble”), shuffled barroom jazz and some of John Fahey’s prairie smoke is blinked through “Tired Eyes”. “Hollow of the Night” is like Pentangle vs. Dave Bruebeck’s “Take Five” and the rockabilly “Bluebird” swings like “His Latest Flame”
For the songs the weather, both dark and damp, is oft used as a backdrop, and as a metaphor for lost love and loneliness, which aids their richly sorrowful and immaculate folk. Tracks like “On A Dark Black Ocean” - with its sampled rain and perfectly timed thunder – and “O’Melancholy” hails the contemporary West Coast folk sound and bears comparison to Vetiver and Devendra Banhart.
“Anyhow” is like a twangy western meeting modes of the east, “The Raven” speaks a ghostly tale of midnight whilst the “III Legged Dog” again serves to represent unrequited or lost love.
There is occasional light reprieve, such as the sweet companionship of “Don’t Lie Awake”, the jangling Byrdsian road to happiness of “I Wanna Go”, and not forgetting the penultimate, uplifting, Nilsson-like “Red and Gold”. Excellent stuff.
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