MONSTER CAT Mannequins (KittyWu)
The long-form explanation for MONSTER CAT’s name is a mystical affair involving Japanese folk-tales and myths, but we prefer the short-attention span answer. MONSTER CAT loves cats. Really fat ones.
Now that that’s out of the way, the vital details, then, quickly: The band members of MONSTER CAT are Hentai Cat, Psycho Cat, Black Cat, Copy Cat, Zen Cat and Paper Cat, with the band’s name always in caps (because fuck you, Google Chromebook). Having already been featured once in legendary local producer Leonard Soosay’s Snakeweed Sessions in May, the new KittyWu recruits have followed up that burst of publicity with the release of Mannequins (itself also a Soosay production).
Interestingly enough, the record proper features none of the humour hinted at by their quirky pseudonyms. Instead, Mannequins is a mellow, fragile affair, shivering with sex and soul as well as nuanced emotion. Beginning with the aptly-named opening track, Initiation, we dive head-first into a measured instrumental piece that is deliberate in its atmospheric build-up. Title track Mannequins then introduce us to the EP’s central theme; under a bed of stark, urgent folk-rock instrumentation, the band launches into a lyric inspired by Italian writer Alberto Savinio that is frightening in its desperation.
The rest of this short EP takes its cue from the first two tracks: having opted for fragile, articulated melodies over instant pop hooks, the band spends the rest of its time building up and refining the ambient atmospheres, laying claim to the texture and drama of influences like Fever Ray and Smashing Pumpkins. Underwater is a particular masterpiece of arrangement and production. At once both intimate and claustrophobic, the track shimmers with a kind of midnight blue reminiscent of Miles Davis. In its spiritual eroticism Mannequins presents us a refreshingly intimate and private perspective not often heard from local shores; The Courier, for example, is a love supreme unto itself, a moment stolen from the bed of two lovers soulful and hot.
By the time the EP closes on the quiet and intense number, These Hands, you ought to have realised that this is one of the best warning shots ever fired by a local band. One would do well to keep an eye on the strange and brilliant animal that is MONSTER CAT.
(Samuel C Wee)