EP Review: Le Cerveau by 1700 Monkey Ninjas
Ed Purchla, aka 1700 Monkey Ninjas, is an experimental electronic musician/composer and so much more. Also a digital abstract artist and playwright, Purchla’s brain is buzzing with ideas, concepts and themes, which brings us to Le Cerveau – French for the brain.
Described as an “interim project”, whilst 1700 Monkey Ninjas’ upcoming release ( titled “Know That Music is My Lifeblood“) is being finished, these eight tracks are free to stream. They can be accessed at:
Purchla explains, “These tracks are raw, designed in such a way with the intentional error in sound and method which, much like Le Cerveau, we all must deal with“. The first thing that strikes me is that each track’s title is a part of the human brain, so I’m intrigued already.
A mix of electronic sounds, effects, spoken parts and melody is this artist’s trademark, and all appear within “Le Cerveau”. These are short bursts, with the shortest track being 1:05 and the longest being 2:35.
Starting with “Temporal“, it contains electronic sounds, blasts of music and a man making a speech, inviting his audience to think about their responses to silence – “Listen to what’s happening inside of you as I’m speaking; you’ll begin to notice some pauses between my words”, as he demonstrates by pausing. “Stem” includes what sounds like an electronic parrot, some silence and enthusiastic audience applause. “Parietal” has melodic sounds and someone talking about how, more than with any other art form, people feel an emotional connection with music.
“Occipital” begins, surprisingly, very Vangelis –ish. “Hippocampus” features up-temporhythmic sounds, over running water. “Frontal”, with its tolling bell, is rather like a score for a murder mystery. “Cerebellum” has both stuttering and layered electronica. “Amygdala”, with its choral-like vocals, pleasing harmonies and lone electric piano, ends the EP on a simpler note, as the brain gently shuts down.
I wish I had the time to undertake a crash course in the workings of the brain in order to try to find connections between the functions of the eight parts and the associated piece of music that’s been created here. Alas, science and biology were never my strong suits. Just how closely Purchla has tied his music to brain function is a fascinating question. I suspect that nothing he does is random or accidental. It would be overdoing it to suggest that “everything means something” here, but intelligent, curious minds such as his usually explore meaning at the core of their work. A quick scan through Wikipedia tells me that these eight parts of the brain control various elements, such as language comprehension, visual memory, sensory systems, spatial sense and emotional reactions – all powers for this composer, writer and visual artist to call upon.
“Le Cerveau” is difficult to describe, but not hard to listen to. As with 1700 Monkey Ninjas’ previous work, it’s full of ideas – a cerebral experience, certainly, but also one that offers abstract listening that allows the mind to wander whither it may. Oh, and it’s fun and witty too.