‘The Boardroom’ from Monkey’s Fist – an incredible musical melange(June 18, 2014)
Monkey's Fist is apparently a ‘Celtic fusion band’. Be that as it may, the unbridled innovation and eclecticism that flows through their music is strong enough to eschew pointless or restrictive definition. Their album ‘The Boardroom’ stands on its own without needing a crutch of classification. It’s a whistle-led mixture of Irish flavours, jazz inflections, funk mixed with bluegrass, Latin warmth and gypsy passion. Were that not sufficient to defy categorisation, the synthesis is free from musical restrictions that excites as much as it confounds. Just when you think you have this one lined up, the band takes another swift turn or indulges in a totally unexpected direction-change.
Monkey’s Fist are Sam Piper (whistles) Jody Smith (guitar) Chaz Collett (bass) and Simon Ford (percussion). And that instrument line-up contributes to the confusion. How does such a simple mix produce such wicked twists and turns lifting a simple combination into something fascinating? The answer lies in the symbiosis between the musicians. Throughout ‘The Boardroom’ Monkey’s Fist are as tight as the proverbial knot from whence they take their name - looks simple, difficult to learn, and once achieved, a thing of wonder to the uninitiated. That about sums up this quartet - a twisted collection of close-fitting genres that make it hard to identify where one ends and another begins.
Monkey’s Fist may well be ‘Celtic fusion’, they also perfectly illustrate the phrase: ‘something different’. In fact, their tunes are ‘aural illustrations’, each creating their own image - from the funked-up fervour of ‘Phunky Monkey’ through the loquacious expression of ‘Arfer Chewn’ and the sublimely tranquil ‘End of Days’ to the uninhibited delight expressed by ‘Mina’s Wedding’.
Playing the whistle in a chromatic style drives much of their direction – interestingly the term originates from ‘chroma’ the Greek for colour. Perhaps ‘Celtic-coloured genre-fusion’ could work, then again, that’s just one more definition that excludes multiple influences and expressions. Forget it! Just go with Monkey’s Fist and let this colour for your ears wash over you.
Find Monkey’s Fist here: www.monkeysfist.co.uk
Reviewer: Tim Carroll