IF06 on Austinist

Artistic entities like Monofonus Press are like that little extra mint on the pillow of Austin that makes life here that much sweeter. They release records by artists like Over the Hill, The Golden Boys and Pillow Queens, but they’re a lot more than a record label. Monofonus press also works with writers and visual artists, which they often pair with the records they release for the well-rounded, indie artistic overload that is the IF Series. The Austin-based label + multimedia organization was born and has developed in a very organic way. They started with the intention of putting together like-minded, talented artists to collaborate and produce multi-media excursions, but what they created was a community of interlocking art forms each of which works to further the other. The Press is always evolving, and you can expect that they’ll keep churning out releases as long as the thriving Austin art scene keeps an eye fixed and an ear perked.
The IF Series began with the release of Over the Hill’s self-titled album and Morgan Coy’s Days of Bloat novella, which features illustrations by Colleen Matzke. Now, a handful of releases later, the project has come full-circle with Over the Hill’s sophomore effort, Looking for a Spark, along with Brian Hart’s novella Mile Marker (with art and packaging by Noel Waggener). The end result is an ideal experience with one medium enhancing the message of the other. You can experience at least part of this at the record release show for IF06 at The Parish Wednesday featuring Precious Blood, Pillow Queens and of course Over the Hill.

IF06 is different from previous Monofonus Press releases in its switch from issuing the recordings on compact disc to the digital download. But, lucky for music fans, Looking for a Spark is also available on vinyl. Without listening to the album all the way through, selecting but a few to sample at once, some of these tracks could feel widely dissimilar. One is an atmospheric tune built on a hum and throb behind almost chanting vocals. The vibe of the song makes it ripe for vinyl, with all of the imperfections obvious. Another is a tune of rock and roll desperation with guitars distorted and jangling. And, yet another is flooded with the metallic plinking of a mandolin and the graceful whine of fiddle strings. But, what is revealed is an album full of whispers and pitch-switching vocals, lush and interwoven soundscapes, and dark and artful folk rock. There’s no shortage of sounds and musical equipment on the album either, with everything ranging from a clarinet and a saw heard between tracks one and ten.

The mood of the recording fits well with Hart’s Mile Marker, which is the woeful tale of the doomed love affair between Smitty and Wolf. This winner of the Keane Prize for Literature paints a very vivid picture of the duo’s race to escape bad decisions and a life mixed up with the wrong kind of people so they can stay together and stay alive, and maybe make off with the bad guy’s money in the process. The story is punctuated by the pulpy design and artwork of Noel Waggener, whose work can be seen in films by Quentin Tarantino.

The next release, IF08, is a true story written and illustrated by Thor Harris, which will also include his album Fields of Innards. Stay tuned for a party celebrating the release and Thor’s work.