Monophonic Hillside
And there I was, caught in the machinery of night with the angelheaded hipsters of Monophonic Hillside as my guides through a visionary, guttu(e)ral (meaning both of the throat and of the gutter) auditory experience.

The effect of the music took hold first:  ambient, desert meanderings hued in supernatural darkness but with the strange excitement and discomfort of overexposed innocence like awkward first kisses and preteen skinny-dipping.  Beautiful, occasionally dissonant, frequently symphonic, Monophonic Hillside layers stripped-down sounds to craft each intricate musical arrangement.

Jay and Tabitha Hufman create the vocal partnership responsible for the innocent corruption, the dark lightness that pervades Monophonic Hillside.  Brent Miles brings the unearthly sound of his unique guitar style reminiscent of abandoned highways and Angelo Badalamenti soundtracks.  Luke Mathers (bass), JD Saari (guitar), and Matt Wiser (pedal steel) continue the layering process, each with their own sound element and individual style.  Jay also joins in on guitar while Tabitha provides the drums from the band using only a snare drum, a tom, a cymbal, and two mallets.

The music made is magnificent even if occasionally ominous.  The overall effect brings to mind several disparate musical projects like Calexico, the Black Angels, and Panda Bear but Monophonic Hillside gathers elements of style easily recognized and reconfigures them into a novel fashion… the soul of a Beat embodied in a new mode of music.

I was watching the Zamboni behind the bar of the Ice House Tavern, approaching utter zen, when an eerily enchanting sound surrounded my head dragging me from the ether back into myself.
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by Carly Schorman
photo by Mark Anderson