Album Reviews

Chamber Pop and Mind Games: Mind Monogram ‘Moments in Time’ Analysis and Album Review


Courtesy of Mind Monogram Via Facebook
Courtesy of Mind Monogram Via Facebook From left to right: Keith, Ruiz, and Caro

Author’s Note: I first stumbled across this band last year accidentally, merely browsing through clips of unreleased audio, as a teaser. Engrossed in simple, yet intricate structures, and dreamy melodies, this band became added to my “watch list.”  By the time their single,”Through the Looking Glass” was finally released, an unknown fire was lit within, and as much as I wanted to share this months ago, the construction of words not yet invented to define, posed a problem.

For my 100th post here as ‘Girl Underground’ I wanted to share an artist not yet featured, yet would embody the purpose of why I put this site together. Music- It touches people in numerous ways, and all these artists are inventors, and dreamers, that believe in an idea strongly enough to share it with the world, despite how long the sound takes to travel. This artist in particular, truly came to me last year at the perfect time, and as I got to witness first hand the dedication and drive that pushed this dream, it was reciprocated harder in my own work. The right words may have not yet been invented, with hope, the right placement of words will be enough to express the music, along with the moments of time all humans keep in their mind, this being one.

First built as a  solo project from Edgar A. Ruiz (vocals and guitar), Mind Monogram began, and grew with members, Christian Caro (Guitar and Omnichord), Julian Keith (Drums and Keyboard), and momentarily filling in on bass, Richard Delgado. The project formed into more than an idea, revolving around intuitive and creative constructions in the chamber pop realm, and psych attributions. While each song on Moments in Time (2015), is generally short, (the EP running under 20 minutes), the purpose within each track is properly exhibited within the time frame; showcasing simplicity at it’s best. Steady success in the making, the follow-up album, AM in the PM, is set to be released from Aagoo Records in September, 2015, and picks up on hidden ideas embedded in the melodies. After all, with a moniker dubbed “Mind Monogram,” nothing short from a few puzzles is to be expected.

The opening track, “(King and Pawn) In Conversation,” is direct in context, creative, and inviting. Audio of children playing is smoothly heard, while a western and an ethereal portion of sounds emerges from guitars, setting up ominous territory yet to come. The dreaminess element of the track enters as the conversation begins, each personality distinguished as the clear voice represents the King, and the muffled vocals are the Pawn, exhibiting ranking as well- eventually reverting back to the dire feeling first felt, as the King’s laughter ends the song.

Mere Reflection” is a personal favorite, a rarity of the audible delight in Ruiz’s natural, low vocals, versus other tracks on the EP. The intro is a sample of a tape being played,  and resurfaces by the end of the song, due to the tape “running out,” a clever bit that Mind Monograms seems to illustrate. Lyrically, for only being four lines, these words hold compelling weight.

As each song may be divided separately upon each listener’s own interpretation, for the sake of my own analysis, I began to notice each connection from song to song. Opening line for “Mere Reflection” states, “In the beginning of July, I knew,” which is mentioned in a poem by Lewis Carrol at the end of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass.” Significance of Alice? Wonderland, of course. Musical representation of Wonderland. This book specifically can be drawn out in each song, as the primary game to represent Alice was chess, and the opening track did reference a conversation between a King and a Pawn. With this being said, one can assume another unidentified character is narrating these words, leading up to the next song, “Through The Looking Glass.”

Obvious connections can be drawn from Alice to “Through the Looking Glass,” especially the title, and can be explored further through the lyrics. As far as the musical aspect is concerned, this track heavily falls in the bright and “chamber pop” genre. Refreshing in it’s own nature, drums and keyboards stand out and give the track an extra amount of momentum, during the song’s rise and fall. Touching back on the lyrical value, the female character in this track laughs, and mentions to the other unidentified narrator to, “hide,” while he loses his mind. If stylization of voice distinguished character in the first track, one can assume this voice may also be the pawn, while for the sake of keeping this story in place, “Alice,” hides him.

A dreamier, and light, almost romantic ballad, musically, is heard on the next track, “Glass Chamber.” I’ve always stuck to the notion that the first releases of work are the most self-defining pieces, as I see this track to be a reflection of the artist’s feelings, musically and lyrically. This is a song you can hum on an overcast day that will pick you up, as you hum and reassure yourself to “hold on tight to your dreams.”

While all songs contain a light element, with having vast, deeper meanings within, the next song, “In Layers,” is another favorite for it’s difference compared to others on the EP. Amongst the differences, performance wise, this song is the best when seen live, as it holds the most energy, and will have one immersed in all senses. A little over a minute, the break that introduces the bass riff is worth praising, as this signifies the transition in the song, and watching the drumming live, is a must see that isn’t entirely felt as strong as on the track.

Dissecting the lyrical context, I’d assume “In Layers,” is a response to “Glass Chamber.” Switching from second to first point of view changes much of the weight, and If anyone was assuming I was stuck in a Glass Chamber, I’d most likely have a stronger angst felt from “In Layers.”

Resurfacing the character of The Pawn, from the first track, the closing track ” (The Pawn) Goodbye,” is a melancholy track that reflects the audible notion of the pawn being “cornered” and removed from the chess board, losing the game. The dreamy, and dramatic intro of the track, can only be the soundtrack of the pawn’s life flashing in front of it’s short life, as the song then, switches to reality, represented by an acoustic guitar, and the pawn’s words, narrating what happened, and noting that his mother is crying, courtesy of Ruiz’s echoing vocals.

Well constructed, thoughtfully placed, effortless, relatable and nothing less than genius can describe Moments In Time. Every riff, word, and crashing cymbal, are perfectly placed, and though this sound can be mimicked, the initial heart and mind behind every track is the magic that cannot be impersonated. At the end of the day, we are all chasing a dream, and sometimes you need to quit your job, and pour yourself on a blank canvas you believe in, this being that canvas, this being that dream to these artists. As far as my over analysis goes, I can assume, and conclude, that The Pawn is Ruiz’s fear personified, and getting to the current point of “now,” is the overall story of “Moments in Time;” being that he is every character in his own story.


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