Manual & Syntaks
n the true spirit of hip-hop, Jonas Munk (aka Manual) released two solo records with Morr Music before bringing his crew onboard for a group collaboration: Limp’s Orion. The difference between Munk and, say, Eminem is that Munk’s Danish and he creates spaced out shoegaze laptopdelica. And with the band Limp he even played, shock, the guitar. Luckily, they’re much better than D12.
Earlier this year, Munk released his first American release, The North Shore, with the primary synth player in that band: Jess Kahr. As it might have been expected, it was a gossamer affair that rarely offered much in the way of rhythmic backbone. The two floated along with one another, like a modern day Cluster, and ultimately either put otherwise awake listeners to sleep or played the soundtrack to many listeners dreams. As ignorable as it was interesting? Not quite. Unfortunately, it veered too often near the former.
Which is what makes Munk’s new collaboration with the drummer in Limp, Jakob Skott (aka Syntaks), a much more enticing proposition. And, from the very beginning, it does little to shroud which member is responsible for which sound. An almost solemn hip-hop beat, lathered in static accoutrements, makes its way to the fore in the first minute of the opening track, “Eudaimonia”. And then at 2:30: Silence. And the words: “Bust It”. The track picks up after that short interlude, picking up the sonic pieces of the vocals, cutting them into tiny pieces and splaying them all throughout Munk’s usual shoegazed sound field.
Needless to say, it’s an odd mix.
As such, it doesn’t always work in the way that the duo would like it. “Golden Sun” never really takes off in any noticeable way, “Inez” veers perhaps too close to the new-age of the Jess Kahr collaboration and “Sal Paradise” is almost annoying in its bombastic hip-hop scratching middle section which gives way to an admittedly beautiful ending.
Luckily, there’s a lot more on the disc. Sixty-five minutes and fifteen tracks worth, in fact. Which gives time for tracks like “Adinava”, a woozy and off-kilter workout that seems to feature Syntaks more heavily than Manual, and “Drifting”, an Ascend-era Manual song basically, to make up for the missteps around them. But it’s the final track, “Sunset Rider” where the two finally seem to connect their two competing aesthetics into one very satisfying whole. Both players, again, are obviously doing what they do best here, but over its seven-minute length, it’s doubtful you’ll care who is doing what.
Overall, though, the two rarely connect like this and it’s songs like “Sunset Rider” that remind the listener of the bliss that Munk and the rest of the members of Limp are capable of together and apart. It’s a shame that it takes us nearly the entire record to get there.