Listencorp review of Popular Monitress by Wobbly

Popular Monitress



Liam Murphy

November 11, 2021

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

An album rendered almost indescribable by its penchant for absurd sounds and excitable melodies

An alien jazz band play aboard some grand spaceship on its celebratory maiden voyage. At a certain point in their set, the band, the guests and all of the strange and vibrantly coloured hors d'oeuvres hit a celestial iceberg and are catapulted through a rip in the fabric of space. They hurtle aggressively through an unpredictable void. That is the most accurate description of Wobbly’s Popular Monitress that can be mustered.

Each track brings a truly sporadic performance that defies easy access. But the trills and freeform jazz riffs can be heard almost all the way through, as if the band are trying their very best to keep guests entertained, as their bodies succumb to the altering force of the space-time continuum. The track Appalachian Gendy for example, begins with a mass of chaotic sound being dragged backwards and forwards through some warping Stargate. We hear the squeals and squelches of organic instrumentation, alongside whirring and whining. There is an evident rhythm to the first section, but the dissonance makes the strain that is being put on the sounds very clear. From there we are wrenched from this distorting back and forth and thrown into a pixelated expanse, full of waves of granulated synth and spritely chiptune sounds. The jazz band and the guests seemingly try to gain their footing for a while, as melodies and direction become more and more clear. But by the end they have been thoroughly ringed out, as the music turns into a bubbling mess of noise around them.

Things get more aqueous as we proceed through the wormhole. Synaptic Padberg provides a fairly melancholy tune, an adorable synth melody sideswiped by fizzling geysers of sound. It is a refreshing clearing amidst the mind-bending tracks, sounding genuinely sad towards the end.

The style the album finds is hyperactive at the best of times and chaotic at the worst. Fragments of melody are picked up and played with momentarily before being thrown into an abyss of sound. There are tracks that could be considered less abrasive, like Illiac Ergodos 7!, but even within the fairly reserved journey of this short outing, there is franticness. The little sounds that peak out from behind the gloopy gauze and count for a great deal of the song’s journey are made up of a myriad of smaller notes. Everything is fractal, off-kilter and loosely tuned.

Popular Monitress creates something that is defunct on impact. Each song is at a different stage of some virus that seems to infect it with random granulated glitches and random noises. But throughout the chaos, it does feel that Wobbly is in complete control of everything. It is as if the artist is managing to ride atop this massive behemoth creature that changes shape and form constantly.