I really wish I had 48 hours in a day. Even for the simple reason of being able to review singles on the day they come out. This beauty debuted May 27th and I really regret Vanadian Avenue could not premier the single! It`s no secret that we have a soft spot for avantgarde and ambitious genres of music. And Brain Ape`s new offering just ticks all the boxes for me.
If you are not familiar with this London duo, Brain Ape have been going on since at least 2012. Set up by Minky Très-vain and Sol Alex Albret, they have two albums under their belt: “Dara O`” (2014) and “Auslander” (2017). Quite early on in their career, they have been mentored by producer Pip Williams (Nightwish, Status Quo) and the band made a name for themselves by relentlessly touring alongside Ethyrfield (Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath), Dutch Mustard, False Heads or Rival Bones.
In 2021 Brain Ape started releasing digital singles using Roman numerals. First came “clxxvi. veni vidi vici” (translating from Lain into “176. I came, I saw, I conquered”) followed by “cclxxv. theatrum serpentis” (“275 Theatre of the Snake”) and now “mcmi. fenchurch king”.
Minky Très-vain and Sol Alex Albret
The phase “I came, I saw, I conquered” doesn’t need much explanation. It was famously attributed to Julius Caesar at the battle of Zela. “Theatrum Serpensis” is a different matter, even for a historian who studied both Greek and Latin as yours truly, it’s hard to discover its true meaning. It may refer to the constellation of the Serpent – a very important navigational point during ancient times. The numbers only add to the mystery. The battle of Zela happened in 47 BC, while year 275 AD is mostly known as the date of murder of Emperor Aurelian (or the battle of Beneventum) – but it has very little to do with snakes.
“mcmi. fenchurch king” translates to “1910. fenchurch king”. Fenchurch Street is one of the main points of the City of London financial district. It is also the year when George V was crowned king. The king of Fenchurch could be a reference to both: the monarch and the big financiers like those portrayed in “The Wolf of Wall Street”.
Minky Très-vain photography by Gregory Hesse
According to the press release, the single is a protest against the rising nationalism in the West. All right Sherlock Holmeses and Miss Marples of the indie circuit. Whoever solves that riddle gets something nice!
Musically, “mcmi. fenchurch king” is a patchwork of samples, distorted voices, broken beats and solemn chants. Part Stabbing Westward in their “P.O.M.P” period and Depeche Mode from “Master
and Servant”, cold wave with a nod to the post punk. You could drop it among Ampex Twin remixes of “Further Down the Spiral” and even Trent Reznor wouldn’t notice. It’s a complete change of the music direction for Brain Ape, as far from their melodic grunge roots as possible. I don’t how fans of the band will react but it’s a shift I haven’t heard since Morgoth released “Feel Sorry for The Fanatic” or Paradise Lost reinvented themselves with “One Second”.
And I love it. I have always been a fan of taking drastic changes in music, catching the listener off guard, showing different sides of one’s abilities. You gotta have more hooks than Madonna has looks
as Better Than Ezra put it nicely.
Sol Alex Albret photography by Julian Newton
I have a feeling that the Brain Ape will follow similar way like Strange Bones – morphing into modern version of industrial metal/rock act, being Pitchshifters of the day. Well of course I could be wrong here. But that’s the beauty of trying to foresee the musical future.
Hey Brain Ape – if you have another single like this coming, please let us know. Vanadian Avenue would be very happy to premier it on our humble pages.
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