Words Ian Hawkins.
The cosmic space lords Monster Magnet are back, breaking their regular three year orbit to release Milking The Stars: A Re-imagining of Last Patrol, just one year after their previous album Last Patrol.
The bands mastermind Dave Wyndorf has stated that the record is a return to the roots of Monster Magnet, but rather than a step backward, Milking the Stars has one foot in the old and the other firmly in the new. For those who aren’t familiar with Monster Magnet, there was a distinct shift on their record Dopes To Infinity from the earlier, darker and more cosmic Hawkwind worship to a contemporary hard rock sound, much more structured and rigid. Last Patrol is the first album in 18 years not to feature guitarist Ed Mundell (also of The Atomic Bitchwax), the shoes being filled by Garrett Sweeney.
Milking The Stars isn’t exactly a brand new studio album from Monster Magnet, rather it’s an elaboration on 2013’s Last Patrol. The bulk of the album consists of different mixes, recordings and arrangements of tracks from Last Patrol, four extra tracks and two live tracks. Dave Wyndorf has been listed as co-producer on many Monster Magnet records, and here in conjunction with long time bass player, now guitarist Phil Caviano, Monster Magnet have created a pretty spectacular re-imagination of Last Patrol.
An eerie, reverb drenched flute calls the intro for the band to begin melting the walls with lucid delays, and crawling pick slides. Within the first few seconds we get the taste of a fairly new element in the band, a dark creepy organ played by Wyndorf. I’m immediately struck by vibes of Pink Floyd’s Piper At the Gates Of Dawn, the first Desert Sessions and some Electric Wizard, but still with a characteristic Monster Magnet feel. No Paradise For Me combines the deep smooth bass playing of Chris Kosnik with some mad man rambling vocals intimately intertwined with guitar licks that drip with reverb. Wyndorf’s brilliant power with words and phrasing are met nicely with production techniques that were scattered across earlier records, lo-fi vocal whispers and randomized swirls of delay borrowed from the masters of dub reggae. Stay Tuned (Even Sadder), is a real nice track, with some morose strings sitting alongside guitars shimmering with vibrato, and The Duke (Full on Drums ‘N Wah), delivers exactly as the name suggests, full on drums.
Milking The Stars is a really great Monster Magnet record, managing to retrieve the darker, heavier and far more psychedelic elements of Superjudge and Spine Of God, without letting go of the direction the band have taken since Dopes To Infinity. The strength of Wyndorf’s self-expression has been growing stronger and stronger with each successive record, a feat of endurance almost un-matched by his contemporaries.
Long-time Monster Magnet fans, especially those of you who have lost track of the bands more recent records, I highly recommend this one, and I look forward to catching a glimpse of the space lords within the next three year orbit.
Monster Magnet – ‘Milking The Stars: A Re-imagining of Last Patrol’ is on Napalm Records and available HERE NOW!