Listen: Mono Stereo

“We see ourselves as an international band more than a Swedish one. There are not many bands in this country doing similar things to what we are doing. Also the people who seem to appreciate it the most are from the US and UK.” Thus says Mono Stereo, a four-piece from Malmö, Sweden, but with a growing transatlantic connection. Their intensely guitar-woven music is the kind to seriously get lost in. It’s trippy yet at the same time subtly controlled and puts you in mind of paisley shirts with large collars–just young men letting loose and experimenting. Allied to that is a harder edge that recalls 90’s shoegazers and a freshness that just as much speaks of now.

On their 2009 four-track debut EP, Space Out, the band sports mod-ish haircuts last seen on the back of a Lambretta. The look is somewhat in keeping with a psychedelic vibe that harks back to the late 60’s. The band very much owns up to the influence this period of music has had on its development. “We love late 60’s psychedelia and the way people experimented with the pop formula back in those days, before it got out of hand with all the progressive stuff that came later. It also often has a dreamlike feel to it, which is very appealing to us. That is also something we try to bring into our own music a lot. People were just being very creative in those days.”

“Orange Is Green” from the EP goes through the verse-chorus bit for the first minute and a half, but the rest of the song is really the main event, as the interplay of the two guitars against a backdrop of pulsating bass and urgent percussion really comes into its own. It’s oddly reminiscent of “Burning Bush” by UK Asian crossover prog boys, Quintessence. Two points if you remember that. It meanders and commands you to consider the heavens as much as your shoes. Instrumental sections dominate the EP and peak on the third track, “You Better”, which is pure wall of sound relieved by the occasional grounding in the shape of a recognizable riff. The final track, “Time Will Never Let You Slip Away”, is a more conventional song, built around a familiar descending chord sequence, which the band admirably revitalizes. There’s a great all-guitars-blazing build towards the end, which concludes in cacophonic splendor.

The band’s name suggests a meeting of opposites and an affinity with the past. It reflects the contrasts embedded in the music. Mono Stereo also makes a neat band logo, which looks like a record label from the 60’s. The band got together when brothers Jakub (drums and vocals) and Geggan (vocals and rhythm guitar) teamed up with bass player Gunnar and lead guitarist Kjelle. “We all shared the love for this kind of music although each have their own things they listen to and bring into the music,” says the band, while acknowledging influences from bands like Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Stone Roses, Spacemen 3, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Oasis, and going back further to 60’s icons like The Rolling Stones and The Byrds.

Mono Stereo has been working with sonic legend Kramer, whose credits include Bongwater, Butthole Surfers, and Galaxie 500, on a new album, which is currently scheduled for an early 2011 release. Gigs have included a sold-out show supporting Girls at the Debaser club in Stockholm. While the album waits, the band has whetted appetites with the single “On And On” backed by “A Matter Of Confusion”. This has appeared in the US as a limited edition 7” single on the MPLS label due to interest from US sites, labels, and, of course, the Kramer connection, though these two tracks are self-recorded. The single is available here on vinyl or as a download worldwide. Mono Stereo is currently planning UK and European shows and has an open invitation to play in the US with NYC outfit Violens, whom the band gigged with last year in the UK at Proud Camden.

“Our ambitions are to reach out to as many people as possible who are into the kind of music we play, and we also hope to get people who did not know they liked it,” says the band, with admirable candor. “We will keep making music we like ourselves and hope that other people will too.” From the evidence of their work so far, especially the mesmeric strains of “On And On”, which even features the welcome return of that late 60’s staple the sitar, Mono Stereo’s audience is likely to swell.


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