Ed Purchla, aka 1700 monkey ninjas, is a man of many talents. As well as producing experimental electronic music under his monkey ninja persona, he is a digital artist and has also recorded some singer/songwriter material. You can get the full, immersive Ed Purchla experience by exploring his sounds and artwork plus delving into his range of merchandise, which includes t-shirts, bags, car stickers and jewellery.
Ed’s digital art, which is also used for the images in his 1700 monkey ninjas promotional videos, is a collection of abstract explosions of vivid colour, some of it chaotic – some of it beautifully symmetrical.
Electronic music is not just for dancing to these days. In fact, it never was, and there is a long and distinguished history of experimentation in this field.
I am intrigued by the more cerebral end of the spectrum. Rather than vainly struggling to work out how this track – Slagg II – has been achieved technically, I will try to describe my emotional response to it.
It starts off with quite a famous quote about art – well, that’s what art is innit, it’s you being free of all the world’s heaviness. Fans of the UK’s maestro of comic quotes, Karl Pilkington, and Ed is one of those fans, may recognise this as one of his most quirky observations. Bleeps, beats, distortion, keyboards, and percussive effects follow, as if a vast bank of electronic gizmos has exploded and an ocean floor dweller is sucking up the remains and spitting it out again. Snatches of EDM melody anchor the anarchy of staccato, jerky spasms, leading you down many corridors in a labyrinth without exit signs. This is the kind of track that compels you to put it on repeat until you’ve heard every twitch and tick – pulled out every thread.
Of course, it may not be your cup of tea. Being free of all the world’s heaviness is subjective, after all. If your world is defined by a dance floor alone, you may not want your neural pathways zapped in this way. But if you do – you can bounce around for 3:31.
So, what other pieces of electronic wizardry has 1700 monkey ninjas produced? You Tube provides us with lots of examples of his output. Most of these tracks are so dense, with so much going on, you need 20 pairs of ears to hear everything. Some have spoken word samples, such as UStaytheF***outtaSYRIA, which has a U.S. military involvement in Syria theme and is one I particularly like. Ones with a lot of distortion may be a noise assault too far for some. One man’s poison and so on.
This is not background music that you’ll want to play all day. Some of it pins you to the wall, like a blast from white hot sound waves. Slagg II, in particular, introduces another element here – a sense of humour. It’s a lot of fun and makes me smile.
Tracks from 1700 monkey ninjas feel very free. There are no rules. It’s music without a safety net. Freefalling makes you free of all the world’s heaviness, but it’s not for the timid…