From Monument to Masses

The Impossible Leap in One Hundred Simple Steps

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From Monument to Masses' second album, The Impossible Leap in One Hundred Simple Steps, offers a more elaborate version of the abstractly political instrumental rock that they forged on their self-titled debut. Their mix of intricate instrumentation -- which recalls a more amped-up Godspeed You Black Emperor! or Tortoise crossed with the more explosive attack of Don Caballero -- and politically inspired samples, which range from news accounts of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to excerpts of speeches by President George W. Bush to Malcom X, is a volatile and not always successful one. At nine minutes each, "Sharpshooter" and "From the Mountains to the Prairies" don't express quite enough ideas to justify their lengths, and the juxtapositions of samples and music in these songs end up feeling more contrived than compelling. But when the elements of From Monument to Masses' music do jell, a distinctive alchemy results: "The Spice Must Flow" makes judicious use of its nearly eight-minute length, moving from rolling basslines and droning guitars to delicate arpeggios and skronky, explosive passages, while "Comrades & Friends" is one of the band's prettiest songs, mixing drum machines, vibes, fuzzy guitars, and samples into a melody that is both passionate and poignant. When the emotional component of the band's music overtakes their occasionally too-cerebral musicianship and political concepts, From Monument to Masses and The Impossible Leap in One Hundred Simple Steps becomes truly subversive and revolutionary, but the band still needs to take a few more steps to do this consistently.

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