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We Bake Our Bread Beneath Her Holy Fire

by Thumpermonkey

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THUMPERMONKEY LIVES! - We Bake Our Bread Beneath Her Holy Fire (Genin/Tooting Bizarre) - In which an unnoticed Sarf London band, twinkling away doing their good and frankly slightly odd stuff down there in the badlands explodes into an outrageous supernova, outshining half the sky.

This album, these six epic songs, have ideas way beyond their station: huge depth, big sound, immaculate arrangements, and a big, big voice. It's a lot of things, and greater than the sum of its parts: unashamed proper prog, lifted, by an avant sensibility, out of cheesy traps, yet swapping the harsher elements of experimental and avant rock for something more melodic, for refined guitars and real singing. Main man Michael Woodman's downright classy voice is like a polished Peter Hammill, all power and in tune and spot-on vibrato. That fine voice is delivering twisted, complex melodies and equally twisted, happily ambiguous lyrics, the combination is thrilling.

There's nothing quite like Thumpermonkey Lives! but I can guess where they're coming from: they're the English Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, a more experimental Van Der Graaf Generator, they've got some of the headbending melodies of Time Of Orchids. They've been threatening this for a while, with a great debut album and much time spent hothousing their talents in their Immersion Composition Society lodge (you what? Go on, Google it, I dare you) - but We Bake Our Bread Beneath Her Holy Fire is still a surprise - a classic, even. Stuffed to the gills with possibly unconscious references to good things - hints of Yes, moments of Cardiacs-like odd sounds, loads of Gentle Giant - crikey. Throw in some Alex Harvey and Bowie and The Associates and Bobby Conn, a touch of Melvins if you like. It's challenging only in that the melodies are thick on the ground and take you off in many directions, but that the complex mathyness underlying much of the songs is made easier on the ear by Woodman's voice and the warm, clarity of the arrangements. I can see both followers of hard-boiled avant-rock and fans of more traditional prog bands like Porcupine Tree getting this, and if Thumpermonkey Lives! ahem, live a bit longer, the big prog festival organisers could well be beating a path to their door. It's a shame to pigeonhole them, though - this is just compelling stuff, complete with lyrics to dig into (I love the demented Vivian Stanshall-ish storyline of Proctor Cylex, the Grendel-like menace of Whateley) and for Woodman to wrap his voice around. It doesn't matter that they sound a bit like some of the more obscure prog bands like Tamarisk, Citizen Cain or England, they're better at it; stranger and more ambitious musically than anything within the limits of that old prog rock scene.

I can imagine Thumpermonkey Lives! as they go about their lonely compulsion, like so many of the bands I love and namedrop: playing those gigs sandwiched between the local Oasis and the local Kasabian, some pub in the greasy perenieum between Croydon and Clapham or the Midlands or maybe Stateside equivalent. There's a couple of lunatics down the front who've hitched for eight hours to see them, and behind them the unmoving, unblinking rows, pints tilting, jaws thunking en mass on the floor. Their ears tell them that here in this grotty room is a band as remarkable as any that ever walked the planet, playing just for them: most of them won't believe it. Out of that audience one or maybe two will offer the hitcher lunatics a ride to tomorrow's gig, maybe the whole tour. The son of the headline band's drummer will write their name on his school rucksack, and his friends will sing the lyrics next time, and let it be known that this doesn't happen to those bands that sound like Kasabian.

It happens to the Thumpermonkeys, the real underground bands who dare to be different, to go with their convictions... Go check it out, then go tell someone, spread the word, go discover Thumpermonkey Lives - www.thumpermonkey.com (Marina)

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released May 9, 2010

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Thumpermonkey Tooting, UK

Thumpermonkey make heavy progressive music.

”An outrageous supernova, outshining half the sky."
ORGAN MAGAZINE

“…a sustained victory for intuitive cross-pollination…most importantly, Thumpermonkey’s music is ridiculously exciting; the blazing light of punk rock filtered skilfully through the cerebral prog prism…” PROG MAGAZINE
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Track Name: If It Works For The Cast Of LA Law, It's Going To Work For Me
How do you do it every day? It's perfectly simple; you go turn it on, then you go and turn it off again. Anything else in between is revenge. And the piñata smiles on when the animal kids thrash it with their sticks. (Love what you've done with the room, but we've seen it before). Cos the piñata knows that someone else has filled its belly with nails. NAILS. If you cut corners, if you cut corners, if you cut corners - you don't get excused from the table again, the table again. And if it works for the barricaded nuns then I'll be putting nails in my doors. And if it brings me a golden globe or two, I don't mind death from drowning in applause. And if it's you or the bodies in my pool, I'm going to choose the penitentiary. And if it works for the cast of LA law, then you know; (don't you know it's going to work for me).
Track Name: Whateley
Frogs pipe in dank reeds while New England seethes. Birds hurl their bodies at the gambrel roof. No there's not a fire from earth can burn it, no, no. No there's not a fire from earth can burn it, no, no. No there's not a fire from earth can leave a mark on his home. No there's not a fire from earth can leave a mark. You're not afraid of the birds shrilling at the stolen dead. Big as a barn, they said. Not your wetlimb, ropemade eyes, eyes, eyes. Just the still; your slowdown and miserable crawl home. Orgy from May Eve to All-Hallows pit. No cosmic horror, just ripe decadence.
Track Name: I Don't Know If This Is A Matter For Wardrobe Or Hairdressing
You only want the vampires you invite. Show me the killer can cash a cheque and I'll bend. Show me the all-fours game that went to plan. One day you know someone will catch you in the act and leave a cup of tea beside you, cos' you cut corners. If you cut corners, baby, if you cut corners - you don't get excused from the table again, the table again. Because you cut corners, Daddy said don't ya mess with men and straight bourbon, but forgot to mention, girls and cocaine, girls and cocaine. It isn't a habit. Look at you, I can see it isn't a habit.You should know cos you've been on it for years, it's only the good girls who find the time to keep a diary. You're leaving the world just to document every circumstance of vice. At least your liberal education gets you home. You read the Bard and the Bible, and you know how to shoot dice. Still think there's an art-form in your dirty protest? We love what you've done with the room, but we've seen it before. Deep down you want your kids to think of you demanding bourbon and codeine on your emphysemic deathbed. You'll need a chaser with that before exposing yourself in front of Alfred Hitchcock. Show me the pie without the missing slice and the dirty knife. Show me the dog don't dream about fuckin' up a cat. You only want the vampires you invite. You only drop the bombs that you think you can call back home. Fuck the fucking fucks with fucking diaries. You're leaving the world just to document every circumstance of vice. At least your liberal education gets you cutting those corners. If you cut corners, baby, if you cut corners - you don't get excused from the table again, the table again. Because you cut corners, Daddy said don't ya mess with men and straight bourbon, but forgot to mention, girls and cocaine, girls and cocaine. It isn't a habit.
Track Name: Proktor Cylex
When she and I were first introduced by the Dean, it became clear to me that we were both in attendance at the Canadian Institute of Incendiary Morphology for quite different reasons. She'd stared on, duck-faced, as the Professor reminisced about his viewing of Southgate's millennial frivolity; a mechanism that would brand a prediction of the weather forecast onto food prior to consumption. She'd angrily coughed her vol-au-vent into a handkerchief; after all, this was a house of research - and that was her tell. The false piety of a woman secretly taking terrible pleasure in her work. I proceeded to get her drunk. This is how it starts; I don't get off on it. I get off on you; you getting off on it.She told me about her visions; visitations from a nineteen-thirteen Lloyd Groff Copeman, on some nights, a nineteen-nineteen Charles Strite with an intact nichrome filament. Both would sear stigmata onto her palms that faded by sundown. When I declared ownership of a working Scharfenberg Sunbeam T-9, I could almost sense the blood surging to the skin on her chest. That night we purchased bread on the black market and visited my collection. How she wept. And while our relations became egregiously sensual, it became clear she was merely trying to engender an academic convert. Ah, my little Jerónimo de Aguilar, marooned with her ideals amongst the heathens, obsession pushing her beyond conventional physical satisfaction. Inevitably, she began spending more and more time with my machines. I returned home one night to find a corpse, surrounded by enough oxidised toast to fill every grain silo in the Tower of Babel. Wir braten unser brot unter ihrem heiligen feuer. You shriek when it's at your throat, but can't resist when it's driving the car.
Track Name: Abyssopelagic
Think you can fold him up; put the boy in your pocket. He guessed what clothes you'd wear, what furniture you'd throw across the room. Still think that you're getting buzz from Best Western Bars and Belgian Cigarettes. Long as he lets you tie one off around his throat you're making best use of his silhouette. Maybe you can turn this inside-out, only squeeze the word out so you can bite your tongue, when you demand he kneel down, cold-lashed to the radiator. If what you do behind closed doors has become sacred, why, why, does it only start to itch when the weekend sessions' done? Does he lie down when he is told like cattle underneath the umbra. What small imagination joins you will not split asunder. If you get ditzy on the line between anxiety and afterglow, best get back in the saddle 'til he's pretending he feels guilty just to get you O. He's on fire but only when he knows he can hide in the walk-in. His safety word is. His safety word is so safe he's forgotten where he put it. Turn the lights out. What you do behind closed doors is boring us to murder, now the weekend sessions' done. You take a bite you eat the whole thing. There's no half-measures at this bar today. The more he strains, the more you'll half expect him - dosed up on your doorstep like some jingle-bell on Christmas day. He looks at you like that, you can't help laughing. He looks at you like that, you can't refuse. You don't crack the can and let the worms out, unless you brought a bigger one to squeeze them into if you lose.
Track Name: 419
I call you friend, on behalf of my family. I would be pleased to seek your advice as a guide. Though, I don’t know you personally, I maintain my father's Christian philosophy. Business is people and open minds profit us all. You can cut me right open and you can count my rings if you want. Our family lawyers haunt like cheap ghosts, and they sew, sew, sew the money in. Whilst they can entertain you have no idea how hard it is for me to say, "We hope that you will be able to manage and invest in good faith". It used to flow in Switzerland - froze overnight. Everyone knows your portfolio. Help us invest. They claim my Daddy siphoned off the coin from the federal government of Nigeria. I got neuro. I got complications. My German client and his family all burned up in that New-York bound Concorde. You think you’re hungry for it? You can’t read the word. This is how. You have the surname of the deceased. Inspired by divine providence.