Upon first listen of Monster Rally’s newest EP release, Sunflower, it’s easy to see why some critics have already started labeling this project the spiritual successor to The Avalanches, who brought plunderphonic music to the forefront back in 2001. The comparisons are meant as compliments, but let us not undermine the uniqueness that L.A. based producer Ted Feighan has worked so hard to cultivate during nearly four years of consistently solid releases.
Sunflower comes to us fresh off last year’s Return to Paradise, from which one of Monster Rally’s more well-known hits, the languidly lush “Orchids,” first debuted. His latest EP, however, is a notable departure from Feighan’s normally sunny tropical mixing. Starting with the narration in opening track “Chin-don-ya,” listeners are launched into a four-song journey through a reimagined feudal Japan with a hint of modernity. (One can’t help but note the influence of other Japanese fusions such as Samurai Champloo and Nujabes.)
Feighan has something really special on his hands here, and it’s no stretch to say that this is Monster Rally’s most thematically complete release. The EP oozes with traditional Japanese instrumentation that, when paired with familiar hip-hop percussive elements, breathes new life into these long-forgotten samples. With Sunflower, there’s an intimate working knowledge of the material that not only shows off Feighan’s expertise as a producer but also elevates his tracks above comparative bedroom artist productions. They’re easily listenable, but also contain subtle complexities that keep the songs from being labeled too repetitious, all while producing a distinct jazz feel.
Sunflower is nostalgia packed psych-pop at its finest. Whether you’re looking for a worthy "Since I Left You" substitute or diving into sample-based music for the first time…Monster Rally’s latest foray is worthy of your undivided attention.