This engagingly weird
album from Dimitri Manos might seem at first to be mostly sonic exploration, a lo-fi collage of sounds to keep his hands from sitting idle.
But alongside the oddball detours and experimental loops, this home recording also brings incredible songcraft.
The American Monoxide project proves (yet again) that with time on his hands, no matter which whim or muse he follows, Manos—of Golden Boots, Dr. Dog and LABRYYYNtH—will spin off-kilter gold.
At the risk of reading too much into the title, consider album along the lines of an experimental aircraft. The design and features may be untested—and some might ultimately fail—but in the hands of a skilled pilot, the craft will definitely take flight.
The 10-song album kicks off with "Powerstrip," with a loping drum-machine beat leading a swirl of keyboards. And at the end of singing about seasons changing and searching for love, Manos offers this: "When I see two power strips plugged in together, I think to myself YEOW!"
"Harmless" is a Western ballad channeled through Manos' hazy soundscape and it's the type of song that comes across brilliantly no matter the format. Here, it harnesses the Golden Boots style of "alt-alt country & crumbly Western," but it would work equally well solo acoustic.
Another highlight is "Brite Lights," a jolt of Casio-tone power-pop that's as catchy as it is skewed.
Listening to American Monoxide, the images that come to mind are Manos playing mad musical scientist in some bizarre lab, or constructing an inexplicable Rube Goldberg device that keeps ejecting his strangely beautiful songs.