Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This unlikely story is a superbly engaging film called Monks: The Transatlantic Feedback

FORCES OF GEEK Monday, April 27, 2009 MONKS: THE TRANSATLANTIC FEEDBACK—Not Your Everyday Monk Rockers By Robert Jaz How could 5 American GI's, stationed on a military base in the middle of 1961's Cold War immersed Germany, in a few years become one of the most out there, avant garde, experimental garage rock and roll art bands to ever come along in pop music's history? Well, it doesn't hurt if you have an electric banjo, are called MONKS and dress like...Monks. For over ten years, directors Dietmar Post and Lucia Palacios have been working to bring the little known tale of one of the wildest, most strikingly different bands of the sixties to the screen. This unlikely story is a superbly engaging film called Monks: The Transatlantic Feedback. For those uninitiated to the Monks' story, music or visual image, this film tells a thoroughly head scratching tale: they were a group of GI's who originally set out to primarily have some fun and meet some girls through making beat music and covering Chuck Berry tunes under the name The Torquays in 1964 while performing for their fellow servicemen also stationed in Germany. They soon hooked up with "a pair of loopy existentialist visionaries," namely two German art student/producers who helped use their own experimental ideas about art, noise, society, politics and generally how to create an in your face image—best seen to be believed—to shape the band into an altogether different kind of pop act. Renamed Monks, they shaved their heads into the (uh...classic?) monks' tonsures, garbed themselves in all black with "noose" styled ties, adopted a tighter staccato rhythmic structure for their music—helped by pounding drums with less cymbals, bashing rhythm on an electric banjo and their guitarist's early use of feedback, wah and a fledgling fuzzbox (supposedly influencing Jimi Hendrix along the way)—created a uniquely sarcastic tinged vocal style and lyrically charged their songs with black humored thoughts on the war in Vietnam and other sensitive subjects. They came up with a set of rules on how to be a MONK which basically was their own list on how to be aloof and act like cool rock stars. They managed to both alienate and fascinate crowds with their proto everything sound and somehow even parlayed it into a major label recording contract which yielded the classic album Black Monk Time. With songs such as "Monk Time," "Shut Up," and "I Hate You" they could be defined in terms that would later be used to describe more contemporary bands such as punk, techno, primitive, heavy metal, alternative, underground, Krautrock, experimental, noise rock, and repetitive post punk. So far ahead and yet, of their time, when creativity and shock could be a daily fresh occurrence. In their view, they were the anti-Beatles, seeing the fab four as just a little too safe and predictable. Audiences of the day either loved and embraced them or shook their heads with confusion. They really only gained an appreciation 30 years later when England's Mark E. Smith and his band The Fall loosely covered a few MONKS songs on their Extricate album in 1990, thereby creating a snowball of interest and enthusiasm about this long forgotten band. Coinciding with very few other like-minded music makers so that perhaps only a handful of equally imaginative and avant rock bands come to mind as operating so independently on their own sound elsewhere at the time: Andy Warhol's sponsored Velvet Underground; satirical protest poets The Fugs; early dissonant practitioners The Godz and Mayo Thompson's Red Krayola. The film uses a generous number of images from the band's archives, the European Cold War backdrop, and Germany's happening art and music scene, so that you quickly become visually immersed in the story. I would imagine, even if one's musical tastes perhaps hold little interest in the band, viewing the film as a historical and sociological story alone would still be an interesting treat. Interviews with the members of the Monks bring a touching and insightful glimpse into the psyche of these men who had differing opinions on their time spent serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, their influence on other notable musicians and how each related to a post Monks obscurity. The film is capped by a much heralded late '90s reunion show where the band finally received its recognition and the music, beloved in all its reissue glory. The dvd also features a booklet and over 70 minutes of special features such as band bios, original uncut German TV performances and reunion concert footage. My expectations were high for this release, and happily have been exceeded by the movie and supplemental material. This is a highly recommended film about a highly unusual group in an important time of rock and roll music's formative period. MONKS:THE TRANSATLANTIC FEEDBACK will be released on dvd in the USA on May, 5th 2009 by Play Loud! The official movie site is at: http://www.playloud.org/themonks.html http://www.forcesofgeek.com/2009/04/monks-transatlantic-feedbacknot-your.html

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reverend Billy for mayor of NYC!

The protagonist of play loud´s first documentary film "Reverend Billy & The Church of Stop Shopping" has announced his candidacy for mayor of NYC. Hallelujah! "This November, as the Green Party candidate, I will challenge Michael Bloomberg - the wealthiest man in NYC - for the highest political office in town - I'm running for mayor and I'm running to win. Will you help?" Bill Talen www.voterevbilly.org

Monday, April 20, 2009

Der Spiegel singt Lobeshymne auf Dokumentarfilm


17.04.2009
 

Musik-Doku

Wie wilde Mönche den Metal erfanden

Von Christoph Dallach
Sie entstammten den nebligeren Gefilden des Pop-Kosmos und entwickelten einen Stil, der sie zu Pionieren von Punk, Heavy Metal und sogar Techno machte: die Monks. Eine großartige Dokumentation über die legendäre Rock'n'Roll-Band erscheint jetzt endlich auf DVD.
Zu Beginn der DVD ist der Bildschirm schwarz, es knistert. Dann erscheint "Beat-Club"-Liebchen Uschi Nerke, die einen "ungewöhnlichen, überraschenden Sound" ankündigt: Vorhang auf für die Monks-Dokumentation "The Transatlantic Feedback". Das Rock'n'Roll-Quintett aus den nebligeren Gefilden der Popgeschichte entwickelte einen Stil, der heute als bahnbrechend gilt, aber damals, Mitte der sechziger Jahre, nur ein sehr überschaubares Publikum fand, so dass die Band nach knapp zwei durchgelärmten Jahren frustriert das Handtuch warf.
Geschichten von Musikern, die zu wenig beachtet wurden, gibt es wie Sand am Meer, die Legende der Monks aber ist tatsächlich so außergewöhnlich, dass die zwei Filmemacher Dietmar Post und Lucia Palacios daraus einen grandiosen und zu Recht mit Lob überhäuften Film zaubern konnten, der nun erstmals auf DVD veröffentlicht wird. Sie setzen darin der Band und ihrer Ära ein beeindruckendes Denkmal.
Mit Liebe für Details, aber auch für die ganz großen Bilder wird die märchenhafte Geschichte von den fünf zu Beginn der Sechziger in Westdeutschland gestrandeten US-Soldaten aufbereitet, die den Rock'n'Roll für sich entdeckten.
In Fahrt kommt ihre Suche erst nach dem Ende ihrer Militärzeit, als zwei ambitionierte und gewitzte Kunst- und Werbe-Studenten aus Deutschland sich der Jungs annehmen und ihnen einen neuen Bandnamen, ein anderes Image und einen frischen Sound verpassen. Nun, als Gruppe namens Monks, trugen sie Mönchskutten, Haarkränze und Kordeln um den Hals. Ebenso drastisch klangen sie: Aus nachgespieltem Rock'n'Roll wurde ein wuchtiger, dynamischer, düsterer, repetitiver eigener Stil. Eher dezent bei den Melodien, aber massiv an Wirkung.
Als Anti-Beatles sollten die Monks antreten und gelten bis heute bei Spezialisten als Pioniere von Punk, Heavy Metal und sogar Techno. Auf der Bühne war das damals ein Ereignis, aber weil keiner ihr Debüt-Album "Black Monk Time" kaufen wollte, war schon 1967 wieder Schluss.
Aufwendig, teils anrührend leuchten die Filmemacher die Lebenswege der einzelnen Monks aus, die alle irgendwie desillusioniert in die ihnen fremd gewordene USA zurückkehrten. Ihre Rock'n'Roll-Abenteuer in der BRD behielten sie so lange beschämt für sich, bis sie eines Tages irritiert realisierten, dass sie Kult geworden waren. Nachgewachsene Verehrer wie Rick Rubin, Henry Rollins, Mark E. Smith, Jello Biafra oder Julian Cope sangen plötzlich Loblieder auf die Mönche.
So fanden sich die alten erstaunten Knaben vor einigen Jahren in ultra-hippen Plattenläden bei Autogrammstunden wieder und absolvierten einige Comeback-Shows vor entfesselten Fans.
Was alles in "The Transatlantic Feedback" wunderbar festgehalten ist.
Neben dem Film gibt es nun zahlreiche CD- und Vinyl-Wiederveröffentlichungen wie "Black Monk Time", sowie eine CD mit Demos und ein Tribut-Album "Silver Monk Time" mit Beiträgen von John Spencer, The Gossip, Mouse on Mars und vielen anderen.
Zwei der Monks sind inzwischen schon gestorben. Die Geschichte der Band ist endgültig vorbei. Amen!

Monks: "Transatlantic Feedback" (Play Loud/SPV - DVD); "Black Monk Time" (Universal - CD).


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