Monster Magnet

  • Monster Magnet
  • Forget About Life, I'm High on Dope [tape] (Cool Beans) 1989 
  • I'm High, What Are You Gonna Do About It [tape] (Cool Beans) 1990 
  • Monster Magnet EP (Ger. Glitterhouse) 1990 
  • Spine of God (Primo Scree/Caroline) 1991 
  • (Caroline) 1993 
  • Superjudge (A&M) 1993 
  • Dopes to Infinity (A&M) 1995 
  • I Talk to Planets (A&M) 1995 
  • Powertrip (A&M) 1998 
  • 5 Reasons to Testify EP (A&M promo) 2001 
  • God Says No (A&M) 2001 
  • Daisycutter
  • Shithammer Deluxe (Pond Scum/Rockville) 1992 

Although the phrase one-dimensional usually carries negative connotations, some artists are possessed with an ability to render that single dimension utterly mesmerizing. Take Monster Magnet mastermind Dave Wyndorf, a guy who has built a veritable sonic church upon a stoner’s creed that venerates a holy trinity comprising the inventor of Robitussin, the director of I Spit on Your Grave and that thrift-store with the stockpile of dirt-cheap Famous Monsters back issues-with a clear preference given to the first member of that troika.

Up through the mid-’80s, Wyndorf was the singer in New York’s Shrapnel, the junior punk-pop-metal quintet led by future Ramones (and others) producer Daniel Rey. After his discharge from that band, the New Jersey native was bent on letting his freak flag fly — a goal Monster Magnet’s self-released, cannabis-overloaded cassettes clearly achieved. Extended Hawkwind-styled jams like “Needle Freak” and “Lizard Johnny” (which sound as if they were recorded on a cassette machine positioned at the far end of a vacuum cleaner hose) reflect Wyndorf’s strobing universe as assiduously as flea-market Doors mirrors glued to the inside of his eyelids.

From there, Monster Magnet merely intensified its idiosyncrasies, adding more reverb to the guitars and Wyndorf’s already incomprehensible vocals. Not that far removed from the heyday of Blue Cheer, Spine of God is an exercise in sonic overkill that leaves the paraquat-free listener wondering “how can brains so small move fingers so fast?” The band lays its cards on the table with the flanged drumbeat that introduces the opening “Pill Shovel,” the grand marshal of a narco-procession that encompasses “Medicine” and the virulent “Nod Scene.” Since Wyndorf and John McBain splay a formidable array of distorto-guitar over everything (including an appropriately mangy cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother”), numbness sets in early…but it’s a good numbness. The four-track 25…………tab adds a bit of Teutonic drone to the psychoactive cocktail, but the overall effect is not noticeably different-although 32 head-swimming minutes of “Tab…” should elate true believers.

Given Wyndorf’s predisposition to mind-travel, it was probably just a matter of time before he discovered the kind of honest-to-Tolkien hobbit-rock that mottles Superjudge, an album at once heavier and less substantial than the band’s previous work. New guitarist Ed Mundell (formerly of Daisycutter, a band organized by ex-Monster Magnet man Tim Cronin) speaks a more standard metal dialect, as borne out by his contributions to “Cyclops Revisited” and “Elephant Bell.” Wyndorf seems to have specters of stadium stages dancing in his head throughout. Other than an exquisitely excessive rendition of Hawkwind’s “Brainstorm,” the fates would probably turn thumbs down on Superjudge. Monster Magnet did an abrupt about-face on the follow-up, however, investing Dopes to Infinity with a much-missed sense of self-directed humor (evident in the deadpan posturing of “Ego, the Living Planet”) and even a break in the wall of wail (in the form of the Farfisa-driven garage-pop “Dead Christmas”). Sometimes nothing succeeds like excess.

I Talk to Planets is a CD-ROM containing eight songs from Dopes and two from Superjudge as well as a heap of visuals.

[Deborah Sprague]