Our new single: ‘More Than Blue’

This track is a collaboration between The Sighs of Monsters and poet David Chislett. The poem “More Than Blue” appears in his new collection of poetry With All Of You and we were tasked with setting it to music, along with other artists who chose other works.

The poem references the cultural impact of New Order’s “Blue Monday” as it pounded out of the loudspeakers of the clubs in the 1980s, as the author “found his tribe”. We’ve made some cheeky references to it in our musical treatment.

The Poem/Lyrics:

I dance and twitch in a moment
Eyes fixed on a point
‘Blue Monday’ in my ears
Nineteen eighty-five
Heart is exploding
Not because of some girl
Something bigger than myself
Something I recognise

Found my tribe in that moment
A place I would call home
Nineteen eighty-five
would last a long time
But my colours are no longer
nailed to that mast
They are now my own
Now they are my own

From “With All Of You” by David Chislett

Dust – Our new album

Our new album DUST was released today. It is available for digital download or on CD via Bandcamp.

“And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”

Fate is indifferent. It is neither unkind nor unjust. Nevertheless, it has left us here to tell you the stories of the dead and the defeated. You will have your own tales, no doubt, which occupy your thoughts at the most unexpected of times, but this is our testimony which we hope to share with you.

Without the dread of grief and death, there cannot be the the ecstasy of joy and innocence unbridled. One holds a mirror to the other. And, be that as it may, we can avoid none of it so let us proceed together. Let us speak of such things.

Akai MidiMix Drivers

As we’ve mentioned before, we are very enthusiastic users of Propellerhead Reason as the main DAW in our studio. As tech-heads we love plugging things in and getting stuff to work together. Unfortunately, not every new device has drivers available and this can make things complicated and inelegant.  We recently bought an Akai MidiMixer to control some aspects of our performance requiring loops and samples managed in Reason, and to integrate these maintaining the spontaneity of the live performance with regular instruments.

Disappointingly there were no official drivers supplied for this device by either Propellerhead or Akai. Bringing up this issue on the excellent Reason Users’ Group on Facebook led to finding basic drivers (or codecs, as they’re more accurately referred to) which got us up-and-running. But we wanted two more things: (1) that the mapping conformed more to the default way the device worked with the dual-function bottons activated by holding down the ‘solo’ key, and also – vital for live performances in low light – that the LED light indicators worked.

Luckily our resident whizz Chris is a software engineer, so he set to work writing and refining the codec for this device and now everything should work as it should.

So, if you’re in the same boat – a Reason user who has an Akai MidiMix control surface, please feel free to use our driver/codec pack which we’re sharing for free. If it has made your workflow better and you’d like to say ‘thanks’, why not buy one of our albums?

“Saturday Morning 5am” is “Record of the Day”

We are very excited that our new track Saturday Morning 5am has been selected as “Record of the Day” by that eponymous music news service.

They say:

“London-based band The Sighs Of Monsters manage to brilliantly distill so many elements of dance culture over the past 40 years into this one track that you’ll thoroughly enjoy picking out the styles and eras as it throbs along. Telling the story of someone finding love in a club, it’s described by the band themselves as being a bit like The Smiths’ classic How Soon Is Now, but with a happy ending this time round. Along the way, there are affectionate nods to the 1990’s rave scene and the influence that Madchester played upon it, with Oakenfold, Farley, Heller and Weatherall-esque production elements bubbling away, including pulsing basslines and Italiano piano stabs. You’ll hear Krautrock, disco, and house all in there too. “

Read more at Record of the Day.

Review: Saturday Morning 5am

A short review of our new track “Saturday Morning 5am” by Mark Buckley of the Electronic North blog:

Saturday Morning 5am by UK band The Sighs of Monsters perfectly captures that sensation when the party is over and in your mind it’s not quite the right time to go home yet. The piano sound and driving bassline give the track an air of urgency whilst the vocals of Dean Sobers bring a wistful and oddly euphoric feel to the track. This is such a perfect song!

Music journalist and DJ Joe Muggs agrees. He tweeted:

Our track has also been included on two Spotify playlists by ThatNewJam and PopJustice!

The Red Dog Music Profile

We’ve been featured on the Red Dog Music blog’s “Sunday Spotlight”. Find out a little more about the gear we use and a our preferred Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).


Review: Lie

We were thrilled to receive a really positive review of our new album, Lie, by the Dutch music website, Your Music Blog.

Here’s an extract:

Listening to the album I was hooked from the first bars of I Hear Drums. Call it infectious, call it catchy, call it what you like, it is a damn clever way to start. From a bit of distance it is quite remarkable how 4 guys can deliver music so diverse and still sound spot on in every second of it. Whether it is a more elaborate track like Superman In The Silence, the almost Johnny Cash sounding Fight or the almost New Wave sounding song like Hello. And if you now think this is a patchy work, forget it. Don’t know how they do it,  but nothing seems out of place here.

Read the full review here….

The Monsters’ Mixtape

The eternal question any band gets asked is “what sort of music do you play”. Genres, these days, are so non-specific and broad that it is hard to give a snappy answer. We think we’re from the sort of Art-Pop / Art-Rock tradition and to illustrate this point, we’ve made a giant playlist on Spotify featuring many of the artists who have either inspired us or we feel a sort of creative kinship with…

It features the likes of Bowie, Beck and Bjork… and that’s just the b’s. There’s Sparks, and Shriekback, Radiohead and REM, vintage stuff like the Velvet Underground, and contemporary tracks from Alt-J, and some real curve balls too. You’ll be entertained for hours!

Catching Up With The Monsters

It’s been 2 years since your first album, Ground. What have you been up to?

We started recording the follow up to Ground, “Lie” in May 2015 but we had a lot of distractions. We put a lot of time into rehearsing our live show, made three music videos and also recorded two non-album tracks for different projects.

Two of the music videos were for tracks from Ground. For ‘The Engagement’ we recut footage from an old ‘swords-and-sandals’ gladiator movie now in the public domain which was a lot of fun. For ‘Sea Stories’ we were more ambitious and filmed original footage – in typically freezing and wet English weather – which was less fun. But we’re very proud of the outcome. It’s also the first video to feature the band. We filmed it in some woods on the outskirts of London and around the Kent coast.

We were invited to play at a small arts festival in Kent too, hosted in a medieval church, so we took the opportunity to record a live performance of the track ‘Drawing’ with that stunning backdrop. ‘Drawing’ is a song based on a poem by the late South African writer Ingrid Jonker who committed suicide in the mid 60s. We were invited to submit a track based on her work along with 30 or so other artists for an album called Die Kind Is Nog Jonger (“The Child Is Even Younger”). We couldn’t pass up this opportunity, so took some time out to write and record this song, which we love.

What was the response to that?

The compilation album was very warmly received and featured many artists we were very proud to be played alongside. We were thrilled when the music critic for a major Cape Town daily newspaper, Die Burger, named ‘Drawing’ as a “standout track”.

And the other non-album track?

We recorded a song ‘After Charlie’ as a response to the attacks in Paris on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket, which targeted Jewish people. We donated the proceeds to a UK charity which fights anti-semitism.

How did the live shows go?

We don’t play live as much as we’d like to. It’s a combination of the shrinking live music scene and the fact that we focus more on recording. But as a band you have to put yourself out there, so we’ve played a few special shows. Just after Ground came out we were involved in a show to raise money for Medicins Sans Frontiers. Brett and David were in the house band dubbed “The Half Decents” and Chris was doing the sound engineering, so it made sense to twist Dean’s arm into coming along to play the first set as The Sighs of Monsters. It was a great show with The Half Decents and raised several thousand Pounds for MSF.

It’s the sort of show we like doing too, so we pitched in to play two shows for Oxjam, which raises money for Oxfam’s relief programme.

We also did a live on-air acoustic set for Croydon Radio which was a lot of fun. Dean and Brett played acoustic guitars, Chris brought his congas and tambourine and David swapped his keyboards for an accordion and concertina. The result was very ‘different’ versions of some album tracks. I think we put it up on our Facebook page.

Another highlight for us was supporting a very eccentric German folk/roots artist who calls himself the “Dad Horse Experience” at The Bird’s nest in Deptford. We’re now fans of DHE. Check out his mad music on Soundcloud!

How did you approach making Lie?

Well, we decided to take our time about it. We approached it with the same structural ethos we used with Ground, that is that it would be a ‘classic’ album format – around 45 minutes long, and split into two (virtual) halves, and that it would have, not so much a theme, but an emotional arc. We recorded more songs than we needed but then agonised over which ones fitted together to form a satisfying listening experience. The selection changed at least once, and we tweaked the running order several times.

During the recording process, we scrapped a few versions of songs and started again. Most songs start with a rough demo by the writer, but they don’t become TSOM songs until we’ve put our collective heads together. Dean is meticulous about vocals and will never let anything slide. We’ll do take after take until he’s happy, and on occasion we’ll go back to it months later because he’s lived with it and feels he can do better or that he’d like to try a different approach.

Is there such a thing as “over-production”?

Of course there is, but we’re very careful. Our mission is not to get everything ‘perfect’, but to make everything ‘deliberate’. We don’t let mistakes through if we can help it, but we do let accidents happen. If an accident happens and an unplanned part or mistake sounds great or adds to the artistic effect we want, we leave it. In fact, we may even deliberately repeat it when we arrange the song for playing live. A good part of the recording process is having the creative space to be fearless.

What do you mean by that?

Well, we’re all introverts and I guess because of that we have no real egos or desire for competition. Artistically this is a real advantage, because we don’t mind trying things without fear of failure. In recording we don’t have the same assigned roles we have when we perform, for example, and this can sometimes have unpredictable results, some of which are magical. On ‘Superman In The Silence’, for instance, we wanted to create a feeling in the vocals of a drunk holding forth about his sorrows to a barman. Dean decided the best way to achieve this was to sing it drunk, so the normally very sober Mr Sobers had a few shots of neat scotch and sang his heart out. A heroic sacrifice of sobriety for art, but the result was both subtle and astounding.

The same applies to our lyrics. Many of our songs are deeply personal and deal with some raw issues quite honestly, but we feel safe enough with each other to really give everything to bringing these songs to life. With TSOM, it’s the real deal or nothing. No compromises.

So what’s next?

We’re now doing our best to promote the album. Obviously times have changed and where you once might have been putting out flyers and posters, you’re now organising digital distribution and working social media. It’s harder than you think, so give us a hand and share our posts and tell your friends about the album.

We also are about to start rehearsals to work out live arrangements of these songs. When we’re in the studio, we’re very focused on making the best record possible, but that often leaves us with several challenges when creating a version we can play in front of an audience. We are very much looking forward to playing these songs for people.