Simon & G-Funk

Monolithium has appeared out of nowhere. He’s shot from non-existence to performances at Mutek and Decibel, not to mention a vinyl pressing (with Error Broadcast), in under year. But much like the purple space rock of his EP’s cover art, just because something is new to your galaxy doesn’t mean it hasn’t spent eons forming somewhere off your radar. Chris Longshanks has been immersed in music his entire life, growing up as an East Coast hip hop addict in the isolated depths of snowy Winnipeg and transitioning into broader electronic explorations with his move to the West Coast ten years ago. During the past decade he’s established himself as an enduringly popular local DJ, and as a member of Victoria BC’s sub|division project, he’s been instrumental in promoting forward-thinking dance floor experiments. Given the years he’s devoted to laying solid musical groundwork it should actually come as little surprise that his first forays into production have been so immediately successful.

An eccentric blend of wonky swagger and fine detailing, Simon & G-Funk is indeed an impressive, if entertainingly titled, debut. Longshanks’ obsession with hip hop is pervasive. His beats aren’t just cut but are often pulverized – then poured into the tracks with quick, intuitive stutters that blur boundaries between rhythm and textured sound. His synth work ranges from slightly (intentionally) campy to richly cinematic, and he drops in an array of well-selected sounds, some subtle and atmospheric, some right in your face. And so it goes throughout the EP: impeccably dressed full-on attitude.

The opener, “Selfish Lil’ Crunk”, begins with dry, wobbly synth reminiscent of those Peanuts trombone voices, introducing a somewhat cartoonish thug personality. Within 30 seconds though, deliciously textured static-y washes, rolling beats and ghostly echos have balanced out any tendencies towards urban parody with a full, sophisticated soundscape. The title track is the most tightly integrated expression of the elements Longshanks is working with, and its snippets of soulful vocals, found nowhere else on the EP, add a more emotional hook and some flat out gorgeous sound. While every tune does have its own character, they are structurally very closely related, almost variations on a theme. But this is pretty consistent with and indicative of a debut EP – one that Longshanks himself describes as something of an experiment. The important thing is so far the results are looking very promising. If you’re lucky enough to be at Decibel this year definitely check him out.

Be sure to read Interview with Monolithium


Review by Kyra Kordoski for Headphone Commute.