Those familiar with the aesthetic of Super Furry Animals artwork will already be versed in Pete Fowler’s imagination. Fowler has produced eye-catching cover artwork for the band over the last twelve years (SFA’s upcoming album Dark Days / Light Years sees him back to the fold, collaborating with Japanese psychedelia designer Keiichi Tanaami) and much of his work is informed by ‘Monsterism Island’, a mythical realm occupied exclusively by cool-looking monsters.
This atmospheric suite of 27 songs is an effort to soundtrack the feral and distinctly out-there parts of Monsterism. Fowler has taken the psychedelic concept and run with it so we get out-there contributions from The Specials’ Jerry Dammers, Luke Vibert and Gruff Rhys, Amporphous Androgynous (Future Sound of London in another guise) amongst others. Don’t be attracted by the names that appear on the compilation however as they are about as incidental as the songs. It would be hard to tell Gruff Rhys’ contribution from Dammers’.
A Psychedelic Guide to Monsterism Island touches on all the clichÃ©d parts under the umbrella tag of psychedelia permeating with a general air of the fairy, wrap-around-the-head moog lines, indulgent ambient exotica detours, easy-listening, narrating monsters, electronica, blues and flutes. Man. Loads of flutes. This could easily be called Music To Get Melted To.
That it still manages to come off bright, breezy and listenable is testament to Fowler’s utter immersion in the idea of Monsterism as an aural as well as creative concept. So you get the bonkers ‘Designated Wizard Practice Area’ by Belbury Poly siding up to the lush electronic tones of Marc Shearer’s ‘Magic on My Mind’ and Tremortex’ ‘Final Froog’ ( a ukulele-led Hawaiian hip-hop glitch number) seguing into a menacing acid trip of a groove from one called Richie Crago. Taken individually, the tracks don’t stand up to scrutiny but taken as a whole, the compilation envelopes the listener like a big velvety, fun-size pyschedelia blanket. Bring on the Monsterism cartoon.