The Finnish alternative/electro-rock duo Zoomonk's previous album "Milk Drops" was released back in '08. While their next actual full-length is receiving its final touches, this collaboration was released much to my delight. Mr. Zelig Concrete is known as the guitarist and vocalist of Mother Goose, the Finnish alternative rock band which released its debut already in '92. Admittedly, I'm all too unfamiliar with MG's works, so I can't make any comparisons to their direction. "On Time" is available as a CD-R from Zoomonk, and as a mp3-download from the peculiarly named label myhand.thanx records.
The opening five and a half minutes long song is the calmest one on the EP. "Bunny & Turtle" is built around a slow and steady electronic rhythm-pound, which gets its atmosphere from the guest artist Thomas Schärer's gentle and careful piano-melodies and mellotron-ambience. Zelig's deep voice adds extra mystique to the track until its end, when it slowly fades away accompanied by the piano. The EP doesn't continue in similarly calm and deep moods though; "Mudslides on Bombay" sounds more usual to Zoomonk with the rough-sounding electronic guitar and drum machine beats, and there's (as the title suggests) some Eastern vibes as well.
The EP has way too much variation and different small elements for me to go through even the major part of them within the boundaries of this review, so I'll stick to the basics. The remaining songs are based on calm and atmospheric electro-rock that gets its spirit from the past, but is delivered with a stylish modern touch. The drum machine offers a steady beat, but is capable of surprising the listener with some fills and cymbal-hits here and there. Various synth-sounds are used to create ambience and deepen the tracks, and a stylophone and stylophone beatbox are employed to deliver small beeps, bleeps and bops throughout the record's length; the most easily notable moment being the end of "Hiding Under Water" and it's spacey stylophone-burst.
Mr. Concrete's vocals are a huge part of the EP's personality. He has a deep and somewhat dark voice, and his monotonal psychedelia-influenced style of spoken singing sounds enigmatic. It's easy to label as just some guy mumbling (often off-key), and it would be a justified opinion. The vocals are self-assured and mysterious, and the nonsensical lyrics don't make them any less "weird."
I'm generally not a fan of using cardboard slips to house CDs, but somehow I found this one more pleasing than usual. The homemade slip has simple graphics on rough paper, and it fits the music's DIY-approach. All the necessary infos are to be found on the back cover, the CD-R has a cool print with warm colours, and two small extra pieces of drawn art have been hidden inside the slip. I like it. I would've gladly seen the lyrics, but I'm assuming that they're not meant to be read as-is anyway due to their psychedelic free-flow style.
The songs range from the minimalistic opener to the simply rocking sixth song, whereas "Hiding Under Water" relies on weeping and droning guitar distortion and "On Time" on a steady electronic pulse with careful hints of ambient. There is a ridiculous amount of different elements, styles, influences and small spices and nuances to digest, and it took me quite a while to even somewhat get what the EP is about. It might sound intimidating, but has a great plus-side; the record hasn't yet come to bore me, despite the numerous times I've given it a spin. The mixing is deep and very detailed, which is quite honourable since it's been crafted by Zoomonk's mr. Parkkali himself.
I initially saw the EP as a very dispersed collection of songs, but on further listens I begun unraveling its layers and got at least a step closer to its core essence. The songs differ a lot from each other, but the high-quality mixing and Zelig's vocals help tie these differences together. The variation is eventually not a weakness but a clear strong point, and even though the EP is very demanding at first, it's also highly rewarding.
I hope that the duo Zoomonk & Zelig will make a longer collaboration-album some day. A longer, even deeper, and just slightly more unified one. Even though "On Time" is a bit too scattered, it's still damn good. Recommended for people with a taste for electro, rock, and noisiness, and who have time on their hands.