Bands to Watch 2012: Monster Rally
Feighan, a.k.a. Monster Rally, draws a peculiar distinction there. His music splices together long-forgotten instrumentals and applies minimal new instrumentation, the audio equivalent of a thrift-store wardrobe accented by designer sneakers. Though Monster Rally's music sounds uniquely retro, it's accurate to lump Feighan with the array of bedroom producers flooding the internet with dreamy manipulated samples.
What sets him apart is his determination to deploy his sampler like any other instrument. He eschews sequencers, meaning Feighan triggers every sample; he plays his Roland SP-404 like a guitarist plays his Stratocaster.
That's why remixes, a hallmark of electronic music, are rare from Feighan. He took a month to finish one for Way Yes.
As for others remixing Monster Rally's music, business is booming; last fall, Oakland's Gold Robot Records released a whole album's worth. It was Feighan's fourth release of 2011, and it spawned a partnership that has 2012 looking even busier.
Among the contributors was John Hastings, a.k.a. Rumtum, a former member of Shin Tower Music. Hastings' remix of Monster Rally's "Splash Talk" launched a fruitful collaboration with Feighan.
"I would make a song of mine," Feighan said, "and he would make it a real song."
The project's first fruit, an EP titled "MR&RT," is coming Feb. 7 on Sacramento's Waaga Records. Barring local appearances, the duo will make their live debut in Boise, of all places, alongside Built to Spill and Of Montreal at March's inaugural Treefort Music Festival.
Feighan is also ready to dust off Monster Rally's multimedia live show, on hold since last summer while Feighan finishes his fine art and printmaking degree at Ohio State. Much of the material in Saturday's Bands to Watch set comes from the next Monster Rally album, projected for May release on Gold Robot.
One senses that Feighan would be doing all this even if people weren't paying attention. He keeps creating, and listeners keep flocking.
"Most of the stuff that's happened, I haven't really expected any of it," Feighan said, "so it's all kind of nice."