Review: Monoshock ‘Runnin’ Ape Like From The Backwards Superman’

Crime, Chrome, The Shaggs, The Wipers, Dr Mix and the Remix, Mission of Burma, Flipper, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band – names remembered as forgotten punk bands who produced little-known records that had a big influence upon the genre and their following generations. Their sound consists of ahead-of-time song structures, molten-hot riffs and robotic yells of resounding despair. Still, some of these groups had a very limited, to almost no following themselves. Censoriously hated at the time, ill-financed, limited regional following or with a life-span too short to move onto the worldwide stage.

Monoshock ‘Runnin Ape Like From The Backwards Superman’

Although, out of common sight, these bands and their records will forever influence generations to come. San Francisco’s legendary Monoshock, can also be added into that list and could possibly jump to the top, in terms of unnoticed or being in oblivion. This Californian psychedelic punk band, and their debut double album, Walk To The Fire, was a tribute to everything unhinged in rock ‘n’ roll. Sadly, they were ignored at the time and after moving to Oakland in a failed bid to escape total obscurity, they broke up.

To recall that and to give opportunity to re-experience their almost lost visions and unprecedented creations, Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records have teamed up for the vinyl reissue of Monoshock‘s Runnin’ Ape-Like From The Backwards Superman. This double LP collects all their 7″s and comp tracks, together with seven previously unreleased tunes, two songs from their ultra-rare 1989 demo tape and two added bonus live tracks from their reunion shows.

From very beginning with Primitive Zippo, Monoshock are a revelation with plenty of noise, incomprehensible vocals, and ample of outrageous riffs. Moonshock’s sound alternates between psyched-out wah-wah blues and hard noise, then at other times sounding like they’ve drunk from a chalice of impurities and are throwing out the rawest and crudest shit possible.

Tracks like Yippee is almost like a shamanic chant to calling and invocating! Mexican Dentistry, Model Citizen (Nitroglycerine) and Cabalgando A La Luna resembles that throwing out taste of rawest and crudest shit, while Psychedelic Warlords is possibly the most bizarre and outlandish creations of sounds ever forged in this genre as it appears and disappears like a sound wave, similar to following track 19th Street Shuffle, it’s unexplainable yet addictive.

Such was the shock and astonishment of my maiden exposure to this record, it took me a few return listens to find and consider whether to review as a whole, or a deeper track by track analysis from listening at different times, and in different moods, like a random exploration of the entire compilation, so here we go…

the most exciting, bashing, sliding and corrosive doses of unbridled guitar-led, against-the-norm, garage punk…

Terminal Roctus is possibly the most out-of-this-world track of the whole record. With chattering of some mancic souls, this is not a typical composition, but rather like screams from another dimension and one to be interpreted by the listener. Soledad with its weird sliding, and bending in the middle and outro sections is surely something totally unique to envision and incorporate in this genre. Striking A Match In The Year 4007 is drenched with a sublime bass line in an almost doomy style, the yelling style guitar scratches and noises, and the half dead vocal lines, are enough to transport anyone direct to dank basements and garages.

Model Citizen (Nitroglycerine) with its chaotic and disturbing vocal lines, and a guitar sound that’s almost frenzied; the whole track reflects anxiety, paranoia and revolt. Hawkwind Show, a nostalgic track that drives with a standard punk beats and guitar, but the vocal lines will be enough to make anyone listen to this classic over and over again, like listening to Hawkwind. Everything Near Me sprouts some out of this world style vocals. Yippee is almost like a doom track, with trance moods and invocating vocal throwing, which will be enough to make anyone feel estranged, like, it’s almost enough to make anyone kill themsleves. Mexican Dentistry starts with weird rhythms and transitions, it’s so deranged and outlandish that it will feel like Moonshock.

Almost totally soaked and left to rot, I was wondering what the next explorations would leave upon us. Unsuspected, and nothing similar to the previous journey, this time things happen that haven’t happened before – Nobody Recovery really puts me in the zone – so in the zone that I didn’t even notice it was an instrumental on the first two times I played it! Halloween Party has funny vocals coming from all over the place. Soledad has lyrics so good they supply the compilations title and are quoted at the beginning of the liner notes: ‘Runnin’ ape-like from the backwards superman / Gunny sack in your gnarled hand / Here comes the rocktus-cocktus otto-man! / Resurgence from your slimy can / Livin’ like a freakin’, tweakin’ meco-man.’

Throughout the whole album Grady Runyan‘s ‘wall of wah’ guitar was like an overflowing stream. Then there’s the groovin’ Hawkwind cover of Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear In Smoke) with its hilarious Casio-type keyboard leads. Previously unreleased track Terminal Roctus might have more animal noises than anywhere. Then the last track, Destination Soil is the youngest of their efforts on here, from a 1989 living room Isla Vista demo session, but it sounds pretty ‘mature’, almost seven minutes of super-thick and patient melodic drone rock that just never stops burrowing.

This compilation beholds their infinite capability of producing the most exciting, bashing, sliding and corrosive doses of unbridled guitar-led, against-the-norm, garage punk that will always be noise for the neighbour, but a journey to the centre of an uncanny world for many common ones. Cardinal Fuzz (Europe) and Feeding Tube Records (North America) released this worldwide, now go hear the record for yourself, then praise and hail Moonshock.

Label: Cardinal Fuzz Records | Feeding Tube Records

Scribed by: Randolph Whateley