If you hadn’t heard the recent albums by Monster Magnet you’d be forgiven for thinking they were on the slide creatively. Bands nowadays are forever remixing and re-imagining previous material, usually from records that have already sold well from some sort of golden era.
When Dave Wyndorf, off the back of building a home studio, announced his intention to remake ”Last Patrol” and then it’s predecessor ”Mastermind” cynics would have rightly had grounds for concern. “Milking the Stars” was a lovely surprise then, a wonderfully wiggy accompaniment to ”Last Patrol”, a shaggier, acid fried hoot of an album, full of garage/psych re-workings of what were already excellent space rock anthems. And so it is with “Cobras and Fire”, only more so. The shackles are off, with “Milking the Stars” being such a warmly greeted success they have given full rein to their experimental bent. Many of the songs are barely recognisable from the originals, being merely the kernel of a sprawling epic jam. Don’t imagine that the band disappear up their own rocket exhaust though, there are few bands in the world better at just taking a song and jamming the fuck out of it without losing focus than Monster Magnet. Dave Wyndorf is, as ever, an imperious master of ceremonies, always in control. With every release Wyndorf grows further into the role of psych rock mastermind and preacher dude. He surveys his universe like a wise and profane demi-god. He’s the Silver Surfer in leather, Galactus with a grin.
‘Gods & Punks’ becomes a sort of epic, neon drenched cautionary tale – it glides in menacing fashion, like someone oiled the wheels with the intention of sneaking into your subconscious. ‘She Digs That Hole’ becomes an even lustier, more bombastic epic, whilst having an old school rock n’ roll vibe (you can hear all the way back to Eddie Cochrane in its guitar rhythms).
Not content with a straight track for track presentation the band add an incredible pounding version of ‘Ball of Confusion’ and then another brain frying retelling of ‘I Live Behind the Clouds’ from ”Last Patrol” re-titled here as ‘I Live Behind the Paradise Machine’. It’s equal parts ethereal and anguished, super-tripped out and comes across like Jimi Hendrix as remixed by My Bloody Valentine. Astonishing stuff.
The past four Monster Magnet albums have all been works of a band surfing the wave of a creative peak, even though two of them are re-workings of the previously released material. I can’t wait to see what the band produce next. Whether it’s new or old it’s bound to be solid gold.