Monitor - s/t LP
Label: Superior Viaduct
An errant project of suburban Los Angeles art collective World Imitation Productions, Monitor was the sonic outlet of four young artists grappling with their terror and amazement in the convergence of the late 1970s punk scene and Southern California's consumerist decadence.
As with the collective's visual artwork and events, Monitor blends archaic influences with modern technology into one of the era's most curious albums. Eerie synthesizer, menacing guitar leads and morose vocal chants make "In Terrae Interium" an evocative ballad of paranoia. "I Saw Dead Jim's Shade" showcases Monitor's idiosyncratic vocal interplay in a sinister tale of a stolen hand. When "Hair" required a tempo beyond Monitor's instrumental chops, the band appropriated The Meat Puppets to record the track for them. Acquainted at first through mail art, World Imitation found a kindred spirit in Devo associate Ed Barger, who meticulously recorded this LP in 1980, burying the presence of shrieking cats, closing doors and tape loops deep in the mix.
Monitor associated with the original Hollywood punk scene but often met with ambivalence for their incongruity in the face of the movement's increasingly codified appearance and sound. Loosely aligned with like-minded pioneers such as Nervous Gender, Human Hands, BPeople and Non, who together constituted the sub-scene known as the Associated Skull Bands, Monitor operated in its own space within a progressive, diverse musical milieu. Few groups so deftly encapsulate the existential dread and delight particular to Southern California's antiquated culture of artifice.
"Monitor's debut album, a compendium of mutant amplified folk tunes is the best local release I've heard all year." – Matt Groening, L.A. Reader, 1981