Monopoly Child Star Searchers is US musician Spencer Clark (Charles Berlitz, Fourth World Magazine, Typhonian Highlife, etc.), previously one half of The Skaters with James Ferraro. This is his take on fourth world lofi exotica and the second part of his Tropical Bird Romance trilogy between 2010’s Bamboo For Two and 2011’s The Garnet Toucan. Originally issued on cdr in 2010 on the Pacific City label, this is the first vinyl release.
The first thing that you’ll notice is its lofi nature. It sounds like it was recorded on cassette with all the highs and lows taken out, leaving us with a thin mid band where all the action is. It’s a strategy that seems to age the material, or at the very least exoticises it, as if somehow the music is a result of field recordings or poor techniques from the past, where the focus was less on fidelity and more on capturing the sound before it disappears. I’m reminded here by some of the Ehiopiques material or Bollywood soundtracks that can sound shrill, overdriven and worn with age – yet the sonic deficiencies only enhance the experience.
The music is very much hypnotic and repetitive. Endless loops of hand percussion and innocuous bass over which Clark wigs out, with these epic organ solos that bleed in and out of the background, washed out and overdriven. The recipe is remarkably similar and remarkably simple, yet it doesn’t detract from the overall effect. A bit of percussion or a few key notes loop over and over and another sound be it a drone or a raw as hell synth solo gradually appears tentatively within earshot.
It’s reminiscent of so much yet like the best fourth world experimentations it never really gives itself away, never feels derivative, and never really even feels like a homage. There are few obvious reference points, perhaps there are links to some sort of Indian or Middle Eastern organ music, though it’s all cloaked in a blanket of vague exotic otherness obscuring our view. This is really unique music, a celebration of the exotic without the cultural appropriation. It’s raw, odd and simultaneously annoying and soothing – a feat in itself.