In 2015, Belgian drone/ambient act Monnik released a first, rather tentative effort on Consouling Sounds. 'Vondeling' was a decent and promising album which gained Monnik plenty of attention. A few tape releases followed, gradually showcasing the evolution of the Charnia vocalist. In the meantime Barst had invited him to join his ranks and a guitarist and occasional vocalist. The results were spectacular. Barst quickly became a force to be reckoned with and the two clearly influenced each other. Now, Monnik is about to release his second full-length, named 'Bedevaart'. and I must say: Daaaaamn.
On this album you can find three tracks, each of them being a sonic adventure or ritual if you will. The drones, soundscapes and gloomy atmosphere are still a constant but there is also plenty of room for rhythm, instrumental storytelling, chants and psychedelic synths. It feels like Monnik not only has been influenced by his labelmates CHVE and Barst but also by synth pioneers such as Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. The twenty-plus minutes lasting opener 'Zielerust' has a vintage epicness but also something introvert.
Then there is 'Berouw', driving on a deep bassline and issuing some delightful guitars. This one seems to influenced by some of the post rock, dream pop and shoegaze records in Monnik's collection. This is one tremendously immersive track, certainly my favorite on this record. It's clear that Monnik's sound has vastly expanded. Then again, 'Berouw' could have been a passage in a Charnia or, why not, an AmenRa album. The album closes with 'Afscheid', a beautiful piece of almost classical music.
So yeah, this is a surprisingly versatile album, one that simply proves my point about Belgian ambient and drone artists. In this genre, we're on top of the world and that top just got a bit more crowded. Obviously, this comes highly recommended. Or like I said before: Daaaaamn