Print, Reviews October 18, 2019

Album Review: Paris Monster – Lamplight

by Kevin Johnston

The first time you see Josh Dion and Geoff Kraly perform live, you’ll realize your mouth has been hanging open for minutes. Or has it been the whole set? This is the initial jaw-dropping shock one goes through at their first Paris Monster show: how are just two people doing this?

Josh Dion and Geoff Kraly, the two-man psych-funk orchestra known as Paris Monster.
Photo by Elizabeth Lauren West.

The technical explanation of NYC’s Paris Monster is thus: They are the darkly funky, elaborately weird, triumphantly transportive brainchild of Dion and Kraly. The pair are also the entirety of the band’s on-stage personnel, which has to be seen to be believed. Josh simultaneously sings unstoppably pure, mammoth-powered soul, while playing super phat drums and deftly precise keyboard bass grooves. Meanwhile, Geoff plugs a Fender bass guitar into a modular synth, creating limitless soundscapes, angular counter melodies and sonic imagery.

But the musical, human and even spiritual explanation of Paris Monster is something to be pondered. The only problem with doing so, is that your head will be bobbing all explanations loose onto the dance floor. This Halloween, the duo will perform all over Colorado in support of their latest full-length Lamplight.

The ominous murk of a bass riff opens Lamplight, sludging underneath bashing, slow-funk drums and the whine of feedback on “Malcom Heart.” The sounds frame a deeply soulful, scratchy tenor, like an avante garde Leon Bridges wailing prophecies from a parallel dimension. 

“Hot Canyon Air” from Lamplight performed live by Paris Monster. The duo hit The Aggie, Fox and Bluebird this Halloween with Cory Wong.

The pulse and melody of “Andalusia” harkens to Paris Monster’s NYC peers St. Vincent, while “Hot Canyon Air” could be a re-imagined TV On The Radio piece, each as though fronted by a studious apprentice of Otis Redding or Nina Simone.

Lamplight gets its title from a lyric in “Moles,” one of the only major-key moments of uplift on the album. It’s a welcome respite from the darkness, with Kraly’s modulated bass providing high-register blinks and lead guitar melody.

The stutter-funk chorus of “My Disarming” gives way to a Stranger Things synth wash only to be interrupted by math-rock break-beats. Dion’s pure, eloquent vocal on “Old Dreams” soars in an open atmosphere of Kraly’s electro-arpeggios; making high art out of foggy funk.

Closer “Deathbed Song” is a prime example of how Paris Monster lay down the deepest of staccato-funk grooves, yet paint a bleak, verbose picture above it in a soaring, soulful howl. With as much raw talent oozing from their pores as they do, Paris Monster take the high-road by keeping it smart, but keeping it low and nasty too.

Don’t miss Paris Monster live on Halloween night, October 31 opening for Cory Wong at The Aggie, as well as Friday, November 1 at the Fox Theater in Boulder, and Saturday November 2 at the Bluebird Theater in Denver.