Thumpermonkey have been active in the UK prog scene since 2003, and have flirted with a myriad of musical styles in their nearly 15 years as band. On their upcoming Electricity EP, the group explores the story of Lord James Badger, a Victorian-era MP who set out on a divinely-ordained quest to bring electricity to various parts of the world. The music used to tell this story is similarly inspired by works of the past, but uses a modern sense of dynamics and intensity to craft four excellent songs. Thumpermonkey’s Electricity EP uses a current yet classic prog rock approach to convey this forgotten Victorian tale, and do so with great success.
Floating into existence with chiming guitars and wonderful counterpoint bass line, “Garmbonbozia” is simultaneously reminiscent of Cream, Steven Wilson, and Them Crooked Vultures. Even in the more cerebral and dreamy moments of this short compilation, Thumpermonkey regularly incorporate fuzzy grooves to build on the individual moments of the songs. On this opening track, tension builds with increasingly dissonant chord progressions and heavier guitar tones before dropping again into a wash of clean guitars and fuzzed-out lead lines. Interplay between driving rock sections and drifting atmospherics is recurring theme as Electricity surges forward.
Where the first track shows band leader and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Michael Woodman using his higher register, his performance on “Tzizimime” evokes immediate comparison to the haunting melodies of Mikael Åkerfeldt, set against perhaps the grooviest and grittiest track on the EP. Though it maintains fairly consistent energy, its bass-heavy climaxes and harmonic-laden riffs create dynamics that are particularly enjoyable. “This Is Not A Fire” initially follows in similar sonic footsteps as its predecessor, but with perhaps a more psychedelic hard rock vibe. Sam Warren, the group’s bassist, shines here with tasteful but pronounced bass lines that dance gently with the other musical instruments. It is the dreamy break mid-way in the song, and subsequent distorted vocal filled build, that creates narrative development on the track. This attention to growth and flow makes these songs so enjoyable and progressive, even in their comparatively short run-times. The closing groove and octave guitars of this track are reminiscent of some of the best Them Crooked Vultures riffs.
Though each song on the EP features its own introduction, build, and climax, “Woadscrivened” acts as a beautiful and natural conclusion to Electricity. The opening of the song features Woodman’s vocals set against a meditative piano line. When drums and ringing, distorted guitars crash in, the song becomes truly, well…electric. I am not sure that Electricity could have more fitting finale.
Thumpermonkey have crafted an EP that I imagine will appeal to most fans of progressive rock, and maybe even invite more mainstream rock fans into headier territory. With enjoyable song structures, cohesive yet interesting themes, and a balance of conceptual progressive themes with straight-ahead riffs, Electricity is a balanced and enjoyable 20 minute journey.
Notable Tracks: “Woadscrivened”
FFO: Steven Wilson, new Opeth, Them Crooked Vultures