The Julian Day: “Sohei (Monk Warriors)” – Pushing the artistic envelope with every song

The Julian Day began recording immediately after the Winter Solstice of 2010 and posted their first song “Policy” on Reverbnation during the first week of January, 2011. Immersed at a young age in the songs of the great singer-songwriters of the 70s and the experimentation of 80s bands like New Order, U2 and Echo and The Bunnymen, The Julian Day fuses the two to offer a wholly new sound that amps it up, while stripping it down. Working with the idea that art is best when nothing can be added and nothing can be taken away, The Julian Day seeks to engage the listener head-on.

thejulianday-400The Julian Day has a new Ep out, entitled Sohei (Monk Warriors). Apparently ‘Sohei’ in Japanese means “monk warriors” or enlightened soldiers. “With Sohei,” says The Julian Day, “we’ve created what we believe is a powerful musical document that underlines the struggle for a higher spiritual and emotional connection to humanity that is musically and thematically coherent.”

The Julian Day is a project constantly in evolution, challenging its listeners every time by pushing the artistic envelope with every song. Without venturing too far into my own theories of music and the apprehension of music, I’ll note that The Julian Day seems to have grasped the fact that lyrical content is relatively unimportant to a musical expression. Who cares if I don’t understand the singers in a foreign language opera if you leave the opera house having experienced the emotion that the music evokes? The same goes for Sohei (Monk Warriors); the sung phrases, chants and spoken words at times may sound casual and even unintelligible in places – yet it is still evocative and damn powerful.

This album seems to be an experience, not merely a collection of songs from which a few favorites can be culled and then played on the local radio station. It is a work of brilliance, though this may not be understandable to anyone who is accustomed to listening for hits.

Sohei (Monk Warriors) is different from everything else out there in the pop music world right now, and it’s positively delightful. The album will take a few listens through in order for the mind to get its tentacles around the music, and get past what seems like a random hodge-podge of beats, voices, keyboard sounds, stringed instruments and effects, but when you get past the preconceived expectations, you find something really amazing. When I first heard it, I was totally taken back by the vocals on the first track, American Pop (The Wasteland) , but now I love them. Any music that gets better as you listen to it strikes me as the most interesting kind out there.

The Julian Day strut their vocals strangely, sometimes the singer communicates with words, sometimes with vocal effects alone. This type of creativity is worthy of some contemplation.  The Tide (Salman Rushdie Version), which is my favorite song on the Ep, is musically relentless and as the song progresses, it builds in its intensity through the layering of vocal chants over instruments and effects. I find its musical aesthetic completely arresting and unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. A similar intensity is evident with Idolatry which is a ‘gentler’ piece of music. However all the songs manage to find a more experimental sound structure to tap into and test your musical wits.

Some people buy an album wanting to hear something familiar, something that they can relate to. Others prefer music that challenges them to expand the boundaries of their imagination, allowing them discover thoughts and worlds beyond their experience. Sohei (Monk Warriors) belongs to this second group.  I think that if you give this a chance you’ll be moved in a way that will feel both meaningful and memorable.


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Rick Jamm

Journalist, publicist and indie music producer with a fervent passion for electric guitars and mixing desks !

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