A composer/musician/digital artist/playwright by the name of Ed Purchla releases records as 1700 Monkey Ninjas, a moniker that gets the imagination going even before you’ve heard a tune. I won’t pretend to be familiar with the gizmos that make these sounds possible or the terminology associated with electronic music. But like it I do.
1700 Monkey Ninjas’ output is electronic music with immersive beats that also feeds the needs of the cerebral. In other words, you need to listen carefully to appreciate the complex collage of sounds. Purchla is very good at mixing melody and distortion, hypnotic percussion, and rhythms you can jump around to, with the added bonus of thought-provoking, sampled spoken parts, and snatches of humour.
This latest single, “Ahb Seshun”, feels like synth cut and paste, but in a good way, with nostalgic nods to the past, like a laboratory of circuits that’s just exploded. That’s not to say it hasn’t got heart – all its electronic wizardry is strangely emotional too sometimes. The machines have taken over, but they seem quite benign on the whole. They make me want to robot dance, but that’s up to me in the privacy of my own home…
Ahb Seshun has looping questions – “What is it about this woman?” and “Why are you so obsessed with her?” We don’t know, because this is never explained satisfactorily and is, in fact, best left unanswered. It begins chaotically and what follows are melodies interrupted by distortion, bleeps, and something that sounds suspiciously like Sonic the Hedgehog – a sign of a misspent youth, surely.
1700 Monkey Ninjas’ back catalogue is an intriguing one and includes the single, “Slag II” on which he gives us a Karl Pilkington quote of all things. One of my favourite tracks appears on the 9-track EP, “You ARE The Storm” from earlier this year. Titled “Amarrikuh (Flaccid Penises and Assault Rifles)“, it’s a wry but hard-hitting anti-gun message inspired by a recent American killing spree and a fascinating example of dance beats, electronic distortion, and political statement. This EP’s quick-fire tracks are quite minimalistic and dark; the machines don’t sound so benign here.
Ed Purchla’s brain also operates like a circuitry board, popping with information. When he gets an idea, he may pursue it as a production in the studio, a story or play, a piece of artwork or all of those. 1700 Monkey Ninjas is just one conduit for his creativity.
Some people may unthinkingly dismiss this kind of music as noise, but noise is never just noise, as silence is never just silence – John Cage told us this. For me, it’s patterns, gear shifts, heartbeats – and yes, music.
Warning: Explicit Lyrics
You can find 1700 Monkey Ninjas on
“Ahb Seshun” is the first single from the upcoming record, “Know That Music Is My Lifeblood“