Monster Rally: Return From Paradise
Monster Rally: Return to Paradise – Conventionality has certainly gone to hell in the musicsphere since The Avalanches graced us with their musical equivalent to surfing through an infinite number of channels on a dozen wood-paneled television sets simultaneously over a decade ago. This was certainly a landmark event in the regurgitation-of-culture-to-make-new-culture movement, and most likely played a monumental role in the initiation of Monster Rally, who offers the culturally-overwhelmed listener a digital vacation that acts as a calm Mother Nature figure to The Avalanche’s maniacal Father Culture. Although conventional genre-ism has adopted such regurgitations as a genre (and given it more lovable names, notably “chillwave”), Monster Rally dismisses these tags, being more accurately (and just a bit archaically) The Avalanche soundtracking the Sims.
Monster Rally organizer and designer of all things colorful Ted Feighan has publicly denounced the label “electronic” for his music, and rightfully so. This is not necessarily because the term “electronic” has become as broad and worn-out as “indie rock,” but because Feighan’s music transcends genre; Monster Rally’s latest release Return to Paradise, like the rest of MR’s catalogue, is better defined by a mindset than any genre. As the cover colorfully depicts, it’s a playful venture into the tropical carelessness of sick days well-spent somewhere warm at the brunt of winter’s frigidity. It’s certainly an escape from monotony, and not just the monotony of chillwave after receding chillwave. It’s an escape from reality in the same way a View-Master once was, back when kids still played with View-Masters. Each two-minute track is a different image of a far-off beach that almost comes to life as you listen, only to disappear when the slide changes. More realistically, Paradise is consolation for tomorrow’s impending work day and motivation to make this fantasy a reality.
Herein lies Paradise’s single flaw: instead of complementing an existing reality, it becomes an empty substitute. In other words, it doesn’t quite meet the standards for study music (my term for anything soothing and lyric-less enough to avoid my attention yet spark creativity) and doesn’t quite pique the listener’s interest enough for their full attention. Because it exists in limbo, it’s hard to know what to do with it, save for crank it at your office luau or nod off to it when you finally buy those plane tickets for paradise. While tracks like ‘Panther’ and ‘Lovely You’ best soundtrack the highlights of your mental vacation, much of the album is just the pretty imagery that you become desensitized to after just a few days. With the release of ‘Average Guy (Blame)’ a few months ago, I was hoping to see further collaboration with fellow pseudo-anachronism TV Girl who provided vocals for Feighan’s more-than-accompaniable instrumental loops, but for now it looks like Feighan’s going to stick to the formula.
And that’s okay. Monster Rally is a perpetual nostalgia trip to a vacation you’ve never taken, making Return to Paradise an oddly fitting title for those who’ve kept up with Feighan’s offerings thus far (which he has generously made available for as low a price as a few clicks of the mouse). This may not be anything groundbreaking, but it’s certainly a stress reliever, and more than enough excuse to give yourself a nice break from your thoughts for awhile…7.7/10