Review: Monkoora – Pale Slopes

In world full of conflict, politically-motivated facades and dreary routines, music is often a sought after form of escapism. And even within itself, that sense of liberation has many guises. Perhaps you’re just after some jubilant indie-pop to lift your mood. Maybe you prefer the direct nature of political hip-hop. But if you have a penchant for otherworldly soundscapes, Monkoora’s Pale Slopes isn’t a bad place to start.

This ambient mini-LP from 22-year-old Glasgow-based producer, singer and visual artist, otherwise known as Julie Crawford, glides you through a concoction of soaring vocal harmonies, ambient electronics and delicately arranged textures. The drones of opener ‘Hiding Behind Horizons’ sets the mood like the sight of distant and intriguing lands while you gawp out of the aeroplane window.

‘Catch With A Crystal Ball’ is our highlight with its dense textures and haunting vocals. Monkoora has managed to build angular layers punctuated by lucid synths, which may sound a little too inaccessible to many, but to our ears this is one of those near-perfect pop songs for dreamers looking to wander under the stars at night.

But since teaching herself piano at the age of 15, Julie has been developing her craft and experimenting on music software. So the depth is not only found within the confines of each track but throughout the whole 7-track LP. This is displayed with the tribal beats of ‘To Run’ where the trance-inducing vocals complete the voodoo doctor experience. Then there’s the contrast between the fluttering piano ostinato and driving 80s synth bass in ‘Invisible Kite’ as Julie croons “sublime moments in between the cries” which is a rather apt description of Pale Slopes.

Ultimately though, I find myself coming back to the aeroplane metaphor. But while some artists place their soundscapes tantalisingly out-of-reach, Monkoora sets her plane down and lets you explore with a wide-eyed sense of curiosity. Just remember to take your time and don’t forget to look up every now and then. And when you’re done, the enlightening ‘Dawn’ drifts you back to reality as you wonder, “was it all in my head?”

Pale Slopes is due for release on 29th April via experimental electronic label Hot Gem Tunes.
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