One of the main benefits I’ve enjoyed whilst writing this blog is discovering fledgling talent early in their musical journey and watching many flourish into genre leading creatives, something I may not have had the pleasure of doing as a casual listener. One of those artists that first spring to mind is Mungk. After discovering the Leeds based producer through awesome early tunes such as ‘Tribe‘ and ‘Zulu Dance‘, he’s since nurtured his outward looking, global focused sound and found success on leading labels such as Encrypted Audio, Soil And Sound and DUPLOC. This week he shares his most extensive body of work to date, ‘Temple Of Mungk‘, a debut album curated with purpose and passion, and rightfully takes the spot as the second instalment on the new and exclusive ‘DUPLOC Royals‘ album series. As you’d expect from such a creative like Mungk, ‘Temple Of Mungk’ is a true concept project, where we follow the thoughtfully laid narrative of a Monk who, after questioning his faith, embarks on an epic journey of rediscovery. From China to India, to the Middle-East and beyond, we experience a vibrant seventeen track journey of colour and culture, where Mungk brings world music to 140 in the most triumphant way. Today I have the opportunity to present one of the rich soundscapes hidden within the album, ‘Shaolin‘.
Seeking enlightenment through adventure, the monk takes his first steps through hidden kingdoms of the Himalayas during ‘Prologue‘, before Mungk expresses his musicality for the first time on ‘Spirit‘, a simple yet effective blend of guzheng melodies and whimsical synths that cast spells across his sound-system fundamentals. Settled into what was initially an intimidating expedition, the monk bursts with energy and excitement through the grimy chops of ‘Zither‘ and passes borders effortlessly into the mystical Indian lands on ‘Bhvar‘ where cinematic strings reflect the vast South Asian landscapes. After completing the vinyl sampler’s A-side with the bouncy subs and cultural dialects of ‘Yaksha‘, the monk takes his new experiences to the Middle East, particularly towards the ancient town of ‘Varzaneh‘, where Mungk exploits some of his more aggressive, 808 laden sounds heard previously on DUPLOC.
The journey continues through the manic hustle and bustle of ‘Bazaar‘, another perfectly executed display of traditional instrumentation before stepping foot onto Egyptian sand with ‘Sekhmet‘, a heady dose of mesmerising techno groove, thick and stifling like the humidity of the Delta. The captivating soundscape of ‘Mirage‘ allows the explorer some well earned rest; he reflects on his experiences, the lessons learnt and the value he finds within them. Like all good adventures and all good records, Mungk continues to evolve throughout the album as the journey heads south to ‘Congo’, enjoying a percussive masterclass with some serious sub workout and then similarly on ‘Inkanyamba‘. Only here, the vibe takes a turn as nightfall sweeps across the South African lakes and the monk is told of a fabled beast that inhabits the murky waters. As he did through Asia and the Middle East, the monk absorbs the culture and hospitality of ‘Sangoma‘, where the villagers chant with vigour over the most infectious rhythms heard on the record. Along with the bouncy, dynamic basslines and progressive drums, it’s a stand out tune for sure!
However it wouldn’t be a complete Mungk record without some dub influences hidden within, which finally come to fruition upon ‘Shasha‘, a vibrant track graced with natural low end grooves, sunny guitar licks and vibrant melody. A perfect climax to the monk’s life affirming experiences that coheres so effortlessly. The journey draws to a close and the monk hits the high seas, heading back east to the comfort of his homeland during the meditative tones of ‘Voyage‘. The drama of the ocean is highlighted throughout ‘Pangu‘, the larger than life horns and deep subs dominate and continue to obscure the sounds of inquisitive birds that follow. Today’s premiere, ‘Shaolin‘, welcomes the monk back to more familiar shores. The temple reveals itself, high upon the mountainside where wistful plucks resonate throughout the dense forest that surrounds it, giving way to the warmth of the ‘Epilogue‘. The deep heartbeat-like flutters indicate a glow that has blossomed within the monk’s chest throughout his travels, and his peers begin to congregate to listen to the enlightening experiences of a rejuvenated friend.
Without sounding too cliché, ‘Temple Of Mungk‘ is an album like no other, especially within the genre. The very essence of a concept album, each track is so well placed and so distinct, there’s no real reason to go into too much detail about the narrative. The album reveals that thoroughly by it’s own design, through Mungk‘s ingenious use of traditional instrumentation and lucid sampling, so rich and expressive. ‘Temple Of Mungk‘ is an authentic manifestation of what both adventure and dubstep can do for the mind, body and soul.
‘Temple Of Mungk‘ is out now, available to download and available on vinyl as a six track sampler via the DUPLOC Bandcamp.