Stories ‘N Grooves #1

Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2007
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Stories ‘N Grooves #1 Creator(s): Augusto Monk
Publishers: Urban Spook
From: UK
Price: 5.00

A nice little package this one. A hand sized cardboard container containing a 28 page comic and accompanying CD ROM. It was all very exciting to untie the string and examine the contents within.
The comic itself is a collection of four stories about a freelance musician and these are presented as a slide show with accompanying narration and music on the CD.

The four stories that are spread over 28 pages are presented in a single frame per page with prose description format.

They deal with the life of a jobbing muso, arranging gigs, getting to gigs, packing up after gigs, jamming, recording etc. There is a strong Jazz flavour that runs throughout; the atmosphere is one of smoky bars and piano players. The language used by Monk appropriately captures this mood with plenty of ‘muso speak’ in evidence. The overall effect this has is to legitimise and solidify the settings and emotions presented, the smoke really does get in your eyes.

The comic by itself though would be easy to dismiss. The art work is scratchy, almost child like and does not have any real immediate impact on the reader. The prose, an interesting slice of someone’s life but on first impressions little more than that.

When you put the CD on however everything suddenly comes alive. The combination of sounds, narration and pictures is very effective and watching the slide show is most entertaining. The sometimes improvisational sometimes repetitive jazz that provides the soundtrack is delightfully atmospheric. Its discordant nature jars just enough to establish an uneasy tension. It is the narration that blew me away though. Try to imagine a Latino Tom Waits who has a highly idiosyncratic approach to voice modulation and you start to get somewhere near what you will hear. It is simply a wonderful voice that very effectively weaves the discordant music and the scratchy art together.

There is a charming sense of humour that floats through the stories [despite the numerous setbacks] for example the music is provided by the Monk Quartet [the four limbs of the creator].

The overall effect then is that Augusto is trying to tell us that despite lugging amps up stairs in the rain, despite the poor pay etc. there is a joy is being able to create music and to do something that one loves doing. Lucky man.

In a Word: Jazzy.

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