Test Patterns: Vol. 1

God Unknown
rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Tab (2021 Mix)
02. Tab (1988 Demo)

Dave Wyndorf has never really received due credit for sneaking his subversive, acid-fueled creation into the rock mainstream. When they first formed in New Jersey in the late '80s, MONSTER MAGNET were wrought from lysergic steel, forged in fires started by HAWKWIND, NEU! and THE STOOGES and fed through several decades of sonic experimentation and mischief. The band's self-titled 1990 EP may be the true starting point for their steady march towards glory, but the music on "Test Patterns: Vol.1" reveals the true MONSTER MAGNET, wired to the gills and with zero limitations.

First released in 1991, "Tab" is the mythical, mystical, 27-minute freeform jam that sealed Wyndorf's reputation as a turbocharged psych-o-prophet, even as their full-length debut "Spine of God" emerged at the end of the same year, positioning them — a little erroneously — at the forefront of the fast-growing stoner rock scene. Remixed in 2021, it has lost none of its wild charm, and somehow seems more relevant than ever. Fans of ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE, BORIS, OM, SUNN O))) and other like-minded servants of the drone should find plenty to crawl into as MONSTER MAGNET wring an absurd amount of value out of a single, two-note riff, with only a few brief detours from the remorseless hypnotic grind. Yes, it probably will make more sense if you're midway through some kaleidoscopic hallucination, but then that has always been the point. It's called "Tab". You can work it out.

Released via underground imprint GOD UNKNOWN RECORDS, "Test Patterns Vol.1" also features the original 1988 demo version of "Tab", which is arguably even more out-there than the later studio version. While confirming that MONSTER MAGNET were out of their tiny minds when it was recorded, it also brims with moments of DIY ingenuity, as primitive equipment is pushed to the limits, all in the service of that same, inexorable, two-note riff.

Back on vinyl where it belongs, "Tab" may be an outlier in its creators' catalogue, but it defines the drugged-out essence of the MONSTER MAGNET experience like nothing else.

Yeah, "Powertrip" was cool, but this is way more fucked up and, therefore, measurably cooler.

Author: Dom Lawson
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