John Hughes has continued to pump out the music since moving from his own Hefty Records to STS9’s 1320 Records, and he has followed up his 2009 release Reset the Warehouse with The Black Monk, a five song ride through synthetic textures and icy grooves.
Pinball melody dominates the title track, and “Bird of Ill Omen” is brooding in ambience and crystalline in tone, marking the highlights of the EP, which features the accompaniment of longtime collaborator Rick Embach on vibraphone. But more than just focal points, these two compositions are the only real meat found on The Black Monk, given that the other three tracks act more as segues; short sonic snippets that stand are ambient and lack a clear flow.
The Black Monk is far more experimental than Hughes’ last long-player, and despite its brevity and frequent listlessness, it exposes another facet of the musician, albeit one that is more relevant to die-hard fans. Take it as you will, it remains clear that this man is not afraid to trade accessibility for concept, which is refreshing, nonetheless.
The Black Monk is out now on 1320 Records.