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World Music CD Reviews North American

Monika H Band

By Ernest Barteldes
Published March 20, 2007

Bright
Self-Released

Strains of musical theater, modern jazz, folk and a ton of other influences are all over this CD. Most of the lyrics are original, save a couple of poems by the likes of Allen Ginsberg and Herman Melville that have been set to music. The instrumentation varies substantially throughout—for instance, “Organs” opens with an a cappella introduction that morphs into a ’70s The Who-meets-art-jazz feel filled with free guitar, vibraphone and vocal improvisations. The prog-rock “Details” places a beautiful, effect-laden guitar in the background, and there’s a long instrumental suite between the verses. Ginsberg's poetry is taken to another level with “Written In My Dream,” an eerie five-minute tune that seems to emerge from a sleepless night. Monika H’s music probably presents itself better in a live setting (“The Race,” in particular, seems created to be great on stage), and it is not intended for those into easy listening.