Forming in the bleak winter of 2015, France’s The Psychotic Monks have a boundary-pushing reputation that has reached curious ears across Europe through their intense live shows, and unique sound.
The band’s alarming and self-produced 2017 debut album, Silence Slowly & Madly Shines, became a word of mouth sensation on its release, spawning some truly unhinged performances.
After releasing ‘Closure’ last month, their first single in three years, The Psychotic Monks now share ‘Isolation’, paired with an avant-garde inspired video in collaboration with photographer and artist Clara Marguerat.
Sinister from start to finish, ‘Isolation’ is a drone for the end of the world, and perfectly captures the intensity of the new album through its elongated riffs and chaotic ferocity.
Live footage was taken from a performance at La Ferme d’En Haut in Villeneuve d’Asq, France in 2019, and the purpose is to expose what each person in the audience could be interpreting what they are feeling or seeing. It’s based on accidents, the unexpected, and random videos based on band members and Clara Marguerat. It is up to the viewer to interpret this video in their own way.
On the video, Clara Marguerat says:
“Through this video, we tried to recreate the experiences of deep introspection and dreamlike contemplation that may happen in concerts. Its main purpose is to make people feel good while watching it.
It is a live capture combined with an abstract universe I made out of different films taken from the PM (Psychotic Monks) members’ personal collection. I mixed it with other footage we’ve worked on. It was a collective initiative, we wanted it to reflect the intense things they’ve been through during their last year of touring, but to keep it as open as possible and not to focus on their individualities.“
Private Meaning First is out now via tastemaker label FatCat Records. Composed in the French countryside, in a house far too small and far too cramped, they created a deliberately claustrophobic environment to forge their recordings from, in near-total isolation.
The Psychotic Monks are a band that fleet between the contortions of The Jesus Lizard, the looseness of Sonic Youth, the malevolent electronics of Throbbing Gristle, and the organic pulse of Dublin’s Girl Band, but ultimately create something that feels of their own. The band themselves specifically left space for “accidents” in the writing process, taking inspiration from Francis Bacon when he said, “You can’t understand the accident. If you could understand it, you’d also understand the way you were going to act. But the way you’re going to act is unforeseen.”. The band experimented with structure and textures, including silence, and the importance of when not to play.
They see their musical expressions within The Psychotic Monks and on Private Meaning First as an opportunity to be honest, to be empathetic and, for a moment, less lonely.
That bracing sound, that emotional availability, and the closeness within the band has already built them considerable momentum, selling out The Lexington on their last trip to London, an invite to Transmusicales de Rennes, and the opportunity to record a breakthrough live session for KEXP. Live shows may feel some distance off at present, but when a sense of normality returns, The Psychotic Monks remain one of the bands you’ll want to see first.
Private Meaning First may begin private, but it will hold much greater public meaning before long.
The Psychotic Monks released their album Private Meaning First on 27th November 2020 via FatCat Records.