CD, Sunshine Music, 2007
“Dark Corners” is the third full-length release from Munkie, a Leeds-based duo consisting of Jason Clark (instruments) and Kate Peters (vocals). Despite being some distance from the established trip-hop epicenter of Bristol, Munkie produces music that easily falls into that not-so-easily-classified genre. Characterized by downtempo rhythms and unhurried lyricism, “Dark Corners” recalls the unmistakable, relaxed and soulful UK electro-lounge sound, and the band naturally evokes comparisons to such varied artists as Massive Attack, Portishead, Hooverphonic and Zero 7.
Like its trip-hop brethren (and sisters) of the past decade and more, Munkie mixes various elements of both acoustic and electronic sound in their music, over which the syrupy vocals of Peters are poured. Piano and strings provide a distinguishing feature throughout “Dark Corners,” while guitar and more varied orchestral ingredients also make appearances. In well-balanced counterpoint to this assemblage of traditional instrumentation exists a wealth of crafted and textured sounds, shivering tones, off-kilter clicks and minimal, slow-grooving beats. Harmonic synths often provide a melodic and atmospheric background to tracks flavored with a bluesy pop/rock appeal. “Dark Corners” also hints at wider influences garnered from world music and other sources, such as certain elements of chanting and percussion. Songs range from shy and introspective to confident and outspoken, yet regardless of the understated differences every single one seems coated with a slow motion, hypnotizing wash. “Dark Corners” is shadowy, moody and lyrical, and its melancholy aura is underscored by vocals that complement these aspects nicely.
Most songs on the rather short forty-two minute album are between three and five minutes in length, a good format for showcasing the self-assured and captivating singing of Peters, but perhaps not quite long enough to allow the honed production skills of Clark to really shine. “They Invade My Dreams” is a good example. With its extensive instrumental passages, pulsing bass, tribal stick-rhythms and nightmarish interjections, the longest track on “Dark Corners” is also one of the best.
— Dutton Hauhart