What is particularly appealing in the broadly termed roots and world genres, is the fact the best music seems to come from using the stripped down elements of the cultural sub styles as building blocks in a myriad of combinations to construct something that is at once familiar but unique, stalks traditional musical hunting grounds yet is vibrant, fresh and wide-ranging. No one seems to be doing this better at the moment than 3 Daft Monkeys.
The band really hit their stride with 2008’s Social Vertigo, an album than really honed the 3 Daft Monkeys sound, but as is often the way producing an album of such quality can be a double-edged sword. Setting the benchmark so high means that the next time you venture into the studio, you really have your work cut out. Well, with The Antiquated and the Arcane, this Cornish trio have not only maintained their own personal standards but have and raised their game even further, if that was indeed possible.
Whilst a Celtic folk sound is the glue that holds the whole thing together, there is a lot more thrown into the mix. At a turn, Gypsy jazz-jive wafts through on the breeze and weird waltz’s wander nonchalantly by. Hypnotic klezmer spirals around, romantic Latino vibes flaunt themselves openly and this world music cruise even has time to take on board such diverse elements as ska beats, Balkan punk-folk stomps and classical string washes. And if their journey seems to meander through numerous cultures, it also seems to have the ability to travel in time as well. I guess all music does that to a lesser extent, but here we are talking centuries rather than decades.
More compact and bijou than the mass ranks of The Destroyers, more sane than the klezmer-chaos of Gogol Bordello and more genre-hopping than the stringent rules the self styled “folk police” would ever entertain; if world music does actually exist as a single musical category, then this would be the cinema trailer that entices you in.
And lyrically they are just as eclectic, weaving whimsy, wit and wisdom, through a tapestry of tales both personal and profound and across vocal styles ranging from sinister side show sneering to heartfelt warmth.
In all it’s a brilliant creation that pushes 3 Daft Monkeys even further up the “bands to be reckoned with” list and it’s also worth bearing in mind that this is a band that have always considered themselves more at home performing live than as studio dwellers; if this is their recorded work, imagine how good they are in the flesh.