MonoNeon, originally Dywane Thomas Jr., is an intriguing collection of genius. What sets him apart from most bassists is that he exemplifies more than just a band – he is an idea. The album would seem somewhat narcissistic if not for the fact that this young artist can walk the walk. On his EP Southern Visionary “MicroOrangeMound” doesn’t hesitate to introduce us to the strange that is to come. Very slow with some out of tune piano twinkling over the top, it’s unusual but hypnotizing. He doesn’t pace himself either in getting to the title track.
“Southern Visionary” has an almost underwater quality in the out of room noise to this track’s production. The bass is the focus and the plucking does demonstrate MonoNeon’s skill but it’s all too slow. There’s some word play jumping from MonoNeon to the song title “Micro-Neon.” This one is catchy and keeps our interest. This song is all about the slap bass and it sounds great. There is some peculiar sound manipulation here with the bass undertones chugging along. “Micro-JonnayTaylor” follows suit with what feels like detuned bass guitar.
“Micro-StapleSangus” and “Micro-Dilettante” continues the Micro series with similar sounds and tweaked rhythms until “Elleeot Carter” breaks the chain. It leans more towards sound samples accompanying MonoNeon’s riffing. The Micro theme returns with “Micro-Memphis, a fun one, and “MicroJamesCarr,” which slides back into a sad waltz. You begin to notice MonoNeon is trying to link together a message with these titles. Each song is really an extension of the prior. “Hannah Hoch Visits Orange Mound” takes a completely different twist. Sound samples, synths, warped voices and experimental sci-fi themes galore. “The Noise Story” is exactly as the title implies. “Nude Descending A Front Porch” brings back the retro with a stomping pulse. I feel like a Daft Punk video should accompany this one. Then a switch is flipped and a militant drum beat plays from “Neon Dirge.” Again, MonoNeon seems to have a penchant for repetition and recurring themes.
Southern Visionary ends with the last of the noise, “The Noise Story.” The conversations are layered and more notably real, but the dismal sound track in the background ends the album on a lamenting note. MonoNeon’s album isn’t something to dance to, or listen to actually, at least passively. It’s something to think to. This is crafted sound art, more so than just music.
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