Saturday, June 10, 2023

Crossing Visual Field: An Interview with Mononegatives & Shows # 991, 990 & 989

Crossing Visual Field
is the second full-length album by London, Ontario’s Mononegatives. Their sound has been described as “raw punk meets new wave” and with 2021’s fast selling and critically acclaimed Apparatus Division, Mononegatives set themselves apart as a band experimenting with the punk meets new wave genre. Featuring Rob Brake on guitar/synth/vocals, Aaron Wallis bass and David Cereghini on drums, Crossing Visual Field was recorded once again with producer Preston Lobzun, but this time at a home studio in Scarborough. The band spent two years writing, recording and preparing for this record. With extra sonic details this time around, Crossing Visual Field brings a new atmosphere and broader scope to Mononegatives previous anxious nervous energy dynamic.

“Neutral Solution” starts off Crossing Visual Field with a Devo-meets-Gary Numan sound that intersects with garage punk. The song begins with a drumbeat and urgent guitar riff before everything kicks in. The fast verses pause with synthy atmosphere at various points, but never overstays its welcome as this song, just a few seconds under a minute and a half, illustrates the abilities of Mononegatives in the opening moments of the album. “Faculty” is an anxious blast of guitar riffs and features an overload of synthesizers that sounds like an apocalyptic meltdown as cryptic lyrics “Zero time/Zero mind” repeat over punk guitar riffs. “Disappearing Architecture” brings in paranoid lyrics “Surface/Routine/Automatic/Terrestrial location” operates with a controlled frenzy pulling in catchy melodies as the song floats around the sci-fi and all too real themes of the song’s title, while “North Carolina Atomic Bomb” was the lead off single for this album. Described as an atmospheric dark synth-wave track, this song features what sounds like a malfunctioning synthesizer, buzzing bass and crunchy guitar sounds tuning into an almost post punk electronic frequency as Brake sings lines such as “Splitting an atom/Flicking a switch,” “Frequencies shifting frequently” and “A clock moving backwards/The world spins in reverse/Never a moment/You can afford to waste” describing a wasteland of the future and technological ruin. The way the song is executed here is tense, restless and sounds like it is about to implode at any minute. “Implicit Obedience” subverts lyrically as musically the song mixes noisy synth punk sounds with driving destructive rhythms, while “Cro-Magnon” is an infections gem that describes a reverse dystopia with catchy fuzzy bass, synthesizers and drums that lock in with a new wave/post punk garage/shoegaze fashion.

“Second Self” appears next. Originally part of the New Exit in Shards EP in 2022, this track features catchy post-punk guitars, while the chorus features lyrics such as “See parallel Lives/Opposite of sides/Framework falls apart/New exit in shards” reflecting introspective paranoia as the song picks up in a grimy punk fashion before ending in pulsating synthesizers. “Second Self” hits differently as part of this album, track seven and the halfway point of Crossing Visual Field. “Bel-Pre” brings a dark synth mood here as guitar arpeggios laced with effects, fuzz bass and atmospheric drums add to the make up of the song found here. The lyrics of “Nothing comes easy/Nothing comes cheap,” and “All roads lead Rome/No roads lead to home,” evokes a sense of isolation despite the vastness of the world around you. “Outcome Unknown” brings a sense of uncertainty and an uptick in garage punk rhythms, “Television Funeral” is 70s punk/garage and synthy new wave blast drawing comparisons to The Spits and Wire that brings forth a caustic tale lyrically. This song pulls in complex subject matter and in press releases for the single puts forward the idea of “Now that everything can be recorded it’s usually nothing we want to remember.”

“Testing Capacity” calls out with deep cutting synthesizers as guitar, bass and drums attack in the choruses while lyrically “Crash testing/Falling from the second story/Manufacturing with confidence” and “Transducer test device/Static stability factor/Frontal impact force” paint a cryptic, yet glitchy picture touching on communication in the modern age. “Living in the Future” is a bass and midi-sounding synthesizer driving track with lyrics that convey a post-apocalyptic world, while “Deficit” ends Crossing Visual Field. The post punk/garage track with a thought provoking chorus of “Tomorrow is hand to mouth” leaves open a bleak, yet fragmented outcome between the apocalyptic worlds described throughout this album and our modern day dystopia. With Crossing Visual Field, Mononegatives combine elements of post punk, synth rock, punk, garage and the lo-fi genre into its own thing. With a deeper sense of complexity and experimentation, themes of distant and not so distant dystopias, nuclear paranoia and the apocalypse, all wrap around a new sense of atmosphere and musical structure. The songs found here are not just one thing, but many things at once. They are a bit cryptic and can elicit different meanings on repeat listens. Crossing Visual Field brings Mononegatives into a new focus as they travel across different sonic landscapes.

Continue reading for an interview that Revolution Rock did with the members of Mononegatives:

RR: How/when did Mononegatives form and who is currently playing in the band?

MN: We formed in May 2019 playing our first show in June of that year. Currently the members are Aaron [Wallis] on bass, David [Cereghini] on drums, and Rob [Brake] on guitar/synth.

RR: In 2021, you released Apparatus Division. It sold out quickly. What do you think it is about this album that people responded to so much?

MN: It was the excitement of something new at a time when everything creative was in stasis. The releases we did before that album had momentum behind them leading to an anticipation for the album.

RR: When did you record Apparatus Division and with who? What do you remember of making the record?

MN: We recorded the album at Watershed Studio with Preston Lobzun in July of 2020. We recorded a lot of material in a very short session, but we were prepared and excited. We mapped everything out and managed to get it all done in about ten hours.

RR: In 2022, you had three singles out on Dowd Records. How did you get connected with this label and were all these songs recorded around the same time?

MN: Rob is a fan of The Cry, a band big in the skateboarding community, and noticed they were on DOWD. Contact was made about that band and in the process DOWD found us, liked what they heard and wanted to work with us. Those singles were recorded over various sessions we did at our practice space over the course of a year or so. It has been a very wonderful time working with the label.

RR: What is the songwriting process generally like for songs in Mononegatives? Does it differ with each song?

MN: Most of the time a member has an idea and after it is presented it is built up from there as a collaboration. Members are always working on something new so ideas come to us often. We pull ideas from different genres and styles and see how well it all works together.

RR: Dowd Records put out some different types of singles in advance of your second album Crossing Visual Field. “Cro-Magnon” had a game/contest and then “Television Funeral” was a record and a DVD. Maybe you can tell us about how these ideas came to be and maybe you can talk a bit about what inspired the songs themselves (“North Carolina Atomic Bomb,” “Cro-Magnon” and “Television Funeral”)?

MN: We wanted to do something different and interesting with those singles so we wanted to have presentations that complimented the song. “North Carolina Atomic Bomb,” a song both about a lost nuclear warhead and living life feeling like the bomb went off, naturally should have a pop up mushroom cloud that goes on the record as it spins. “Cro-Magnon” lyrically deals with how we are going backwards into a dystopia so we just played that out through the artwork. “Television Funeral” is about watching a funeral over the computer. The video is more of a play on just the song title and it made sense to include it with the record, hence the record grooves being cut into the DVD. You can play the song on the turntable or watch the video on the tv. It’s all connected.

RR: Crossing Visual Field is out now. How would you compare the recording process of this album as opposed to Apparatus Division? In the press releases for the album it stated that the songs expanded the band’s scope and have more experimental elements – do you feel this is an accurate description of the songs?

MN: The difference is this time we took a bit longer recording in a more focused way. We went to Scarborough for a long weekend recording in a home studio, a different vibe and approach to how we recorded the first LP. We absolutely feel that is an accurate statement about the songs. While there is still the familiar there are also songs that gravitate towards a new atmosphere for us. We spent two years working on them and finally recorded it when we felt fully satisfied with them. The extra time we had allowed for more experimentation and focus on the little details. The new album had different dynamics and ideas.

RR: What’s next for Mononegatives?

MN: A bigger focus on touring, travelling, and live shows. While before the situation allowed us to exclusively write and record we are embracing the opportunity to present the songs in person.

Show 991 Playlist (Originally Aired On June 10th, 2023)(Mononegatives, Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Nerves

1.  The Nerves - Hanging on the Telephone 
2.  The Nerves - Paper Dolls 
3.  The Nerves - Letter to G (Demo)
4.  Jack Lee - Give Me Some Time 
5.  Sloan - Blackout 
6.  Sloan - Can’t You Figure It Out? 
7.  Mac DeMarco - 20180701
8.  The Sadies - Wasn’t Born to Follow 
9.  Reigning Sound - Here Without You
10. Dinosaur Jr. - Feel a Whole Lot Better 
11. Husker Du - Eight Miles High 
12. Patti Smith Group - So You Want to Be a Rock n’ Roll Star 
13. Bully - Hard to Love 
14. Audry - 100 Years 
15. Teke::Teke - Yurei Zanmai 
16. Mononegatives - Disappearing Architecture 
17. Mononegatives - North Carolina Atomic Bomb 
18. Mononegatives - Deficit 
19. Mononegatives - House of Cards 
20. Protomartyr - We Know the Rats 
21. Tunic - Protected 
22. King Krule - Pink Shell 
23. Squid - Swing in a Dream
24. Siouxsie and The Banshees - Christine 
25. Siouxsie and The Banshees - Spellbound
26. Siouxsie and The Banshees - Slowdive 
27. Siouxsie and The Banshees - Happy House (Demo)
28. Siouxsie and The Banshees - Painted Bird (Workhouse Demo)
29. Jale - Hey Hey 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the June 10 file to download/stream the episode. 

Show 990 Playlist (Originally Aired On June 3rd, 2023)(Talking Heads, Yo La Tengo, Magazine):

1.  Talking Heads - Girlfriend is Better 
2.  Talking Heads - I Get Wild/Wild Gravity 
3.  Odonis Odonis (Feat. Actors) - No One Left
4.  Flipper - Talk’s Cheap
5.  Cat Clyde - The Hawk in the Tree
6.  Knitting - Baby Carrots
7.  Les Lullies - Zero Ambition
8.  The Exploding Hearts - I’m A Pretender (King Louie Mix)
9.  The Goldstars - My Money
10. The Thrashers - Doing Crime
11. Trophy Knife - Jet Jerk 
12. Phantom Sender - Same Dance
13. Slowdive - When the Sun Hits
14. Yo La Tengo - Brain Capers
15. Wednesday - Bath Country 
16. Yessica Woahneil - Cuntry Quest 
17. Magazine - The Light Pours Out of Me 
18. Magazine - Permafrost 
19. Magazine - Because You’re Frightened 
20. Magazine - Sandwiches (1977 Demo) 
21. Magazine - Touch & Go (1977 Demo) 
22. Magazine - Shot By Both Sides (1977 Demo) 
23. Priors - Optimizer 
24. Single Mothers - Roy 
25. Divorcer - Leech 
26. Softlung - Don’t Say No 
27. Atsuko Chiba - Link 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the June 3 file to download/stream the episode. 

Show 989 (Originally Aired On May 27th, 2023)(Tina Turner, The Saints, Tough Age, Freewheelin' Bob Dylan 60th Anniversary):

1.  PONY - Peach 
2.  OLD - Life 
3.  Monsoon Moon - Circulating 
4.  Jon McKiel - Swing Lo Magellan (Lagniappe Session)
5.  Co-op - Reality’s Veil 
6.  Tough Age - Which Way Am I? 
7.  Blessed - Felt 
8.  Bob Dylan - Blowin’ in the Wind (Witmark Demo) 
9.  Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash - Girl from the North Country (Take 1) 
10. Bob Dylan - Masters of War (Live) 
11. Bob Dylan - Down the Highway
12. Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan’s Blues (Witmark Demo) 
13. Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (Live 1975) 
14. Bob Dylan - Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Demo) 
15. Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan’s Dreams 
16. Bob Dylan - Oxford Town
17. Bob Dylan - Talkin’ World War II Blues (Live) 
18. Bob Dylan - Corrina, Corrina (Original B-Side Version) 
19. Bob Dylan - Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance (Live) 
20. Bob Dylan - I Shall Be Free 
21. Ike & Tina Turner - Such a Fool for You 
22. Ike & Tina Turner - Funkier than a Mosquita’s Tweeter 
23. The Saints River Deep - Mountain High (International Robot Sessions) 
24. The Damned - Love Song 
25. Packs - Laughing Till I Cry 
26. Tunic - Protected 
27. Ancient Teeth - Out of Time 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the May 27 file to download/stream the episode.