It’s like stepping into a time machine and simultaneously going back and forward. Visions of the past’s future erupting from a vacuum of darkness with kaleidoscopic intensity, washing you in colors you could never have imagined existed. Caught in an endless loop, you depart from a motionless vessel and join the others in a lucid ocean of pure sonic bliss.
You are very much aware the creators of this ocean have been building up to this moment for near on two decades, the formula of which has grown in leaps and bounds with each new rendition. With 2019 now in full swing, the ocean, a glistening entity of which memories of the unknown past come back to life, awakens: its creators, the already legendary Monkey3, have returned with what will surely be their magnum opus.
A new Monkey3 record is always a cause for celebration; their transcendental blend of caustic, psychedelic hymns and heavenly space-rock have lit up our imagination ever since their first album dropped in 2003. Over the years their music has mushroomed into something much bigger, culminating in this six-song package of dancing nebulae and celestial harmonies.
The perfect soundtrack to the golden age of sci-fi cinema (think 2001 and Solaris), Sphere takes the synth-laden majesty of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream coupled with the ingenuity of Pink Floyd and Hawkwind and engulf this holy amalgamation with their uniquely smoldering formula. What this means is their music has found new ways to transport the listener to an inter-dimensional space free of the physical, and they do so with a visionary masterpiece which supernovas its way from nothingness into everything.
From its relatively calm beginnings Sphere builds from the get-go, slowly in ‘Spirals’ which, even at it’s jaw-dropping crescendo, feels restrained compared with the interstellar train ride to follow in ‘Axis.’ However, it’s the middle pairing of ‘Prism’, ‘Mass’, and ‘Ida’ which completely steal the spotlight on this record, a triage of blistering kosmiche musik lighting up the night sky, at times making one think of It’s Not Night: It’s Space.
Whilst the monumentally explosive masterpieces of the former two reach a state of nirvana seldom seen by other likeminded bands, the latter lingers in this heady space, peacefully gliding for all eternity even when everything else has disappeared. Much like the album’s opener, the colossal closer ‘Ellipsis’ slowly builds across an expansive 14-minutes to scorch the sky in a dazzling display on color. It’s befitting of an album reveling in a realm outside of time and space to go out with a bang, and when your entire album is that bang, you can’t help but keep it on repeat until you join its hallucinatory kingdom.
It goes without saying every Monkey3 record is a masterpiece, but there’s just something special about Sphere. It topples its own physical limitations, tearing down those sonic boundaries, and marches forward to the reaches of the red shift. Its intergalactic sounds are like nothing the Swiss group have ever jammed before whilst projecting itself on an unbelievably huge level. Refined beyond the scope of it’s peers, Sphere is without a doubt the band’s strongest album to date, seemingly achieving everything its predecessors set out to do tenfold; it’s a colossal, astral trip that will linger on until the world around us crumbles to dust.