MOИK – Grief – EP Review
I’ll be as real with you as always…this might not be the best record by MOИK when it comes right down to it…but it could very well go on to be the most important EP you’ll ever find in his collection over time.
There is…a story that comes along with the Grief EP that is…not mine to tell. Suffice it to say that, were I to explain it all to you here in print…some of you would get it…at least understand, or comprehend parts of it…and it would equally devastate you as much as the tale would likely leave you as speechless as it’s rendered me. Our boy MOИK here has been in the grips of a torturous year that most of you out there, perhaps even including myself…honestly…I don’t know how many of us are strong enough to go through what this dude has been through. Without giving everything away where it’s not my place to do so, what I’ll tell you is simply this…he’s lost. When I started writing that sentence, I 100% believed there was going to be more to it than that…but the real nuts & bolts of it, are that’s exactly what it’s come down to – he’s lost. He’s lost personally, and he’s lost metaphorically as a result…I know that’s still not a full explanation, but if you’re reading between the lines, you can probably get an idea of what he’s been dealing with. None of it has been easy, that much I can confirm – even reading about his situation was tougher than I thought it could potentially be…and all I can say to this guy at this time is that if MOИK ever needs an ear to bounce his thoughts off of, I hope the guy knows I’d be there in a flash to listen.
In a sincere effort to help navigate his thoughts, feelings, and emotions surrounding a profound loss in his life, MOИK turned to two major things for assistance – wisdom in the form of a book called Think Like A Monk, and the act of making music. You don’t go into the making of a record like the Grief EP with the intentions of supplying the people out there with party tunes…you don’t go into the studio to make these songs and think about the charts or supplying us all with single-worthy sound – no. You make the Grief EP in an authentic attempt to survive the impossible, and find catharsis in a world that offers very precious little ways to excise whatever’s troubling us via some sort of expressive means that will somehow capture the essence of everything we’re going through…and have yet to go through still. Music is the only thing I know of that truly allows for this to happen…I’m both thankful and grateful that it has been there for MOИK when he has needed it the most, like is has been for me, and for so many of you out there in the darkest of times when it seems like the light in our lives will never return; but it will. Maybe not as we remember it…not as we were familiar with it…not as we knew it before…but if I’ve gained any valuable lesson throughout my many unexpected years on this planet…it’s that there is so much it still has to offer, despite what we might lose along the way. WE are not done with YOU, MOИK.
Alright…so. I’ve still got a record here on my playlist that you should at least know a few things about as well. I ain’t gonna apologize for this review being written to one person specifically so far to this point – I exist to go where I’m needed, and I do the best I can to speak to those I know are truly listening – and if it’s MOИK that needs my attention right now, that’s who’s gettin’ it, and the rest of y’all can wait. The Grief EP is not going to be the happiest experience you’ll have this year – that much is probably true & fair to say…but after all you’ve read & all I’ve implied, I think you can understand why that might be. That being said…if I’m being honest with ya, you’re probably gonna enjoy this a whole lot more than you’d think you would, even with the context added into the equation. I told ya the last time around in reviewing his record LO-FI OM earlier this year that MOИK could basically throw a rock and hit a song with the talent he’s got, and that remains completely accurate here within the lineup of his latest EP – if not more-so. Think of it this way for a moment…when you have been in your darkest place…you can recall just how much effort it can take to even lift your head up or get out of bed, let alone create some new music or art or something…it can take monumental strength to snap out of our reality even for a moment to get some reprieve. Through music, there is a leveling of the playing field however; you might start out plonking at a couple of notes thinking there’s no possible way you could ever focus your mind & thoughts long enough to make something worthwhile…but if you can somehow find the will to keep on plonkin’ – soon, music takes over and starts to do what it does best – it heals and restores us. It allows us to work things out in ways that we never could outside of the creative realm…it’s not even a form of escapism at all, rather the opposite in fact – music helps us deal and take on what we need to with confidence. The Grief EP is a blueprint in effect…a detailed process, step by step, on exactly that – MOИK will take you on a tour through “Denial,” “Anger,” “Depression,” “Bargaining,” and “Acceptance.”
The guy just makes great music, that’s the facts. Even at what you’d know to be his lowest point, he still shines above so much of what’s out there in the scene, like he’s incapable of helping it. No BS – I’m not here to kick anyone when they’re down, but I’m not here to do anything other than tell it like it IS either – MOИK has undeniable talent, and he’s gifted when it comes right down to it. “Denial” captures the perfect amount of doubt in the melancholy…contemplative vibes that seem to wrestle between the light & the darkness. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in how good things really DO sound, and the cleverness he adds in through production techniques…the sound selection is audibly impressive, the precision of his placement in the structures he builds is impeccable, and the fluid design of a song like “Denial” has more than enough to keep you as entertained as it will engaged from start to finish. Love the distance in the drums, love the distant voices in the mix along the way, and the violin sounds added in are straight-up exquisite…downright essential if you ask me – MOИK puts in a subtly gripping start to his new Grief EP.
There are tiny clues you can observe that’ll tell you a bit about what he’s been going through, and who he is at this point in his life along the way. Keep in mind, we’re talking about that DJ/Producer style of music goin’ on here…you might get a vocal sample or two along the way at times, but MOИK is far from just spelling things out directly, even with the song’s title implications. One thing I think you can see, visually before you even push play – every cut is 2:20 in length…which could either be a significant number or date that corresponds to his personal story, or it could also be a sign of the frustration & pain behind the scenes…almost as if to say, ‘YES I’LL KEEP GOING, but this is what I’ve got and don’t ask for more.’ Another thing you might be interested in, is how a cut like “Anger” ends up sounding. While it’s fair to say that if you know MOИK a little bit, you’re well aware he’s probably not just gonna go Metal-up on ya all of a sudden – he’s still got his slick Electro-based sound fully intact – but the point is, whatever you’d envision “Anger” to sound like in any typical sense, this ain’t gonna be that. In my opinion, that tells us all something…potentially many things I suppose. It could be that MOИK was so down at the time, that this was the maximum level of “Anger” he was able to generate in a soul-depleted state…that’s possible. Or you could go with what my theory is…which is that there’s actually a very peaceful dude in behind the scenes that has been through some extremely traumatic times…and even when he’s at his angriest, he never goes all-out evil, you feel me? MOИK’s a good guy with a big heart…I know this to be true from what little I know about the man and his music…but truly, I felt like that actually came through “Anger” more than anything else. I expected full-blown rage – but what I found was a more controlled intensity and a compelling range of sounds & samples that was chilled out at times, and sure, more amped-up in a few spots too – but nothing like you’d probably have expected with a song titled “Anger” you know what I mean? Moments like this…where an artist is interpreting feelings & emotions through music…they tell you insightful things if you’re listening closely – I felt like this track became a genuine reveal of a lot about the person MOИK is. He’s angry and he should be – but he’s proving he’s got the level of focus & clarity required to push past it through his own creativity, and at the core, with this being so far removed from what you’d likely associate with ‘angry’ sound of some sort…ultimately I think that says more about him than anything else…there’s a good man inside.
“Depression” is certainly something I’m all too well versed in myself. As this cut started out, I’ll admit, I found myself thinking, ‘yep – it sounds like this’ – as in, “Depression” just kind of is what it is. What exactly were you expecting here? It would be downright strange to listen to a song called “Depression” and find a whole bunch of flashy hooks and catchy chorus vocals for you to sing along to, wouldn’t it? I’ll put it to you this way – thematically, it’s 100% on-point in what’s actually a really profound experience – there’s almost nothing to be excited about here, or raise your pulse in any significant way when it comes to how it moves or even the sounds that are being used…it’s damn near a flat-line for the vast majority. To me, that’s right on target – I already told ya, it’d be WEIRD for you to be cheering on “Depression,” and MOИK takes away that possibility by keeping this cut real AF when it comes to the moody vibes at its core. Around the end of the first minute, you’ll get a momentary burst of energy and stunningly artistic sound that’s just about the raddest thing you’ve heard this side of Portishead…but it won’t become the dominant aspect of the song, just a fragment…a piece…a break in the clouds from what “Depression” is like to experience, which in itself, is exactly what it’s like to experience, you follow me? Don’t get it twisted & don’t get me wrong…the man is as tight at the corners as he always is when it comes to the stellar production & depth of the sound at work here…that alone would keep me listening every time. Conceptually, I think he’s nailed this down brilliantly…as to whether or not the people out there recognize it as such, or realize what MOИK is communicating and appreciate that…well…whatever.
“Bargaining” will lighten up the vibe a little bit for ya…it’s got a Rasta spirit at its core, and that connects in an extremely welcome & inviting way. As expertly as ever, MOИK chops, splits, and flexes an innovative fabric of audibly textural sound, and gives you two verifiable sides to this cut’s personality. When it starts out, “Bargaining” will almost appear to be upbeat, laidback, and mellow…you’ll hear really cool additions to the sound like the guitar added in around the first minute…and then shortly after that, this track will begin its descent into a remarkably grounded sound. The guitar sound will sputter and kick as if it’s still got something else to add, but eventually the lighter mood this track began with, dissipates & disappears, and we’re kinda left in the cold of wonder & wandering in our own thoughts by the end. I ain’t saying it’s not effective – it completely is – I felt like over the final fifty seconds in this cut or so, you hear MOИK putting in some very interesting moves as he deconstructs this track in its ending.
Where things really come together for MOИK is in “Acceptance” – to me, it sounded like he got everything outta this one, and another fantastic representation of what that whole mentality & mood is genuinely like to experience. “Acceptance” should come along with a more endearing sound, which it does – it still has that same remarkable depth in contrasting emotions that you’ve heard throughout this entire set-list, but it’s noticeably more light than dark here, which again, speaks true of the definition of “Acceptance” and the feeling it provides us with. It doesn’t always have to be good…it might not always be easy…but there’s an inherent comfort in “Acceptance” that’s akin to understanding…and a pathway forward. From the vibrant scratches & beauty of the ambient sound, to the more noticeable additions like the angelic vocals in the mix or the jazzy beat it comes with – you genuinely feel the relief that can come from “Acceptance” – it’s an audible form of closure that will ultimately allow MOИK to carry on.
You see? I told ya right from the start. It might not be the best MOИK record that he’ll ever make – but then again, you still might love it anyway like I did – the point is, it IS the most important one he’ll ever put out there…because if he didn’t follow through and finish this, he’d probably never make another. This is that record you need to create in order to start the healing process, and begin the next chapter.
The Grief EP will be available Oct. 31st, 2021 – stay connected with MOИK at the official pages below!
Official Website: https://monk.wtf
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