The Organ Grinder's Monkey

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Spirit of Gravity blog, October 2023:

Live Review

"It’s the first time we’ve had Ben back in a while, and he’s changed things around a bit, the lovely Black and Chrome Jaguar guitar has gone to be replaced by some multifunctional high end (but at least black) modern thing. He’s also changed his set around a bit, gone are the tight punchy songs and he’s loosened up a bit, but there’s still plenty of structure. No singing though. The first song he starts by getting some guitar loops going through Bill the laptop. There is some odd glitching and you can visibly see him deciding on whether to restart or use it as feature, he decides to forge ahead. When the chiming interlocking guitar loops are cycling away, he gets the guitar to show some of its other features, messing with things, triggering midi sounds, the wayward glitches mostly fall away leaving on the deliberate ones. And thankfully for his stress levels the rest of the set seems devoid of issues. Apart from the unexpected triggering of an amen break. The next one starts with one of his pop guitar riffs, there’s some madness noises and the amen break. The whole thing has that clarity and lightness that reminds me of my favourite of Cornelius’ work. He gets really into messing with the beats at the end, building on his work with the games controller the last time we saw him.

Spirit of Gravity, Oct 2023

The next one starts with the messed up beats. Slower and rather chunky, he plays in a bassline and some more nicely interlocking guitar parts and glitchy frills. There are some great guitar controlled breakdowns on here. Theres a really quick switch into the next song, it’s almost completely formed. Guitar and rhythm doing what I can only describe as tripping along with extraordinarily filthy noises over them. Unless its some kind of dub of the previous song. Organ Grinder’s Monkey on the Version. It does go through a quite expected silly breakdown/chop up at the end. But a great example of what can be done with a bit of imagination on how to do things. An interesting experimental approach to playing, with a great ear, combining to make something really out of the ordinary.

The Real Music Club, 28th April 2018:

Live Review

"The show was already quite well attended when The Organ Grinders Monkey took to the stage, Ben Garnett with his electric guitar, and Bill, the laptop, wired and primed for a set of gimicky themes, glitchy electronics, thumping beats and angular guitar riffage. The part of the show ('Up, Down, Left, Right, A-Start') where Ben invites a member of the audience to step up and remix the song ….. live (!) as he is playing with the aid of console controller, was met by an enthusiastic young lady who gladly bashed away at the buttons sending Ben's voice and guitars into a tailspin of effects such as delay and echo.

Real Music Club

Sadly, the other audience participation number, 'Take A Step Forward' wouldn't work so well with our largely seated audience at the Brunswick so had to be played straight! The set climaxed with a cacophony of electrically charged buzzes and wheezes as Bill (intentionally!) threatened to overload and explode!

Real Music Club

The Real Music Club, 22nd September 2016:

Live Review

"The Organ Grinder's Monkey (the hugely talented Ben Garnett and his laptop Bill) showcased what can be done with modern music technology when approached with genuine creativity and ingenuity...

Real Music Club

...Garnett's songs were both well crafted and melodic whilst simultaneously using the technology to give a free form feel as sound effects, delays, echoes and all sorts of electronic wizardry chewed up and spat out the neat guitar lines and vocals into all sorts of interesting directions over the top of some solid beats. The set was also an interactive one for those in the Saturday night Albert crowd as not only were they compelled to 'Take A Step Forward (Into The Semi-Circle Of Doom)' and fill the front of the floor but one audience member was even able to take control of 'Up, Down, Left, Right, A-Start' and remix the end of the performance live! Ben finished the set with a bit of showmanship with closing number 'Everything I Do Goes Wrong' as the electronic effects intentionally threw the song off course and Garnett fled from the stage and out the side door with his laptop "Bill" screaming out a torrent of noise - leaving our resident emcee Roy Weard unsure whether to take to the mic and announce the end of the set!"

Cambridge Music Reviews, 19th March 2016:

Review of Zero Life Experience EP

"Ben Garnet aka The Organ Grinder’s Monkey returns with his guitar and palette of creative ideas, mutated by his laptop in all directions.

As the introduction to ‘Take A Step Forward’ jumps between the speakers the multi-layered guitar and staccato bursts of percussion are embraced by an electronic mandolin sound and treated vocal. All a bit lo-fi, but strangely addictive. ‘Up, Down, Left, Right, A-Start’ is an up-tempo twist on an 80s video game soundtrack with retro vocoder voice. A nice synth (or is it guitar?) break ending and a catchy chorus. ‘Falling In Love With A Cartoon Character’ is a strange nightmare indeed, with less electronics and plenty of vocals.

The title track is more mellow, quite soothing but those electronic ‘glitches’ keep invading (of course) to give it an edge. The final song ‘Christopher’ has an atonal marching piano figure behind a nostalgic lyric with a downbeat ending. Lots of keyboard textures here, subtly drawing attention to the words.

Distinctive and bold artwork by Amy Deer complements this welcome new EP, with a sad-looking character emerging from the water, possibly followed by icebergs/bottles/people..? This ambiguity reflecting the music perfectly…"

Spirit of Gravity blog, March 2015:

Live Review

"Second up is The Organ Grinder’s Monkey, Ben with his shiny guitar and helter skelter rhythms. I’m still not used to anyone being organised enough to monitor their set with stereo headphones while they play and he displays some nifty footwork controlling things with a midi footpad.

Spirit of Gravity

He starts with an old song and belts through the first half at a pretty snappy pace ending up with the song where he hands a gameboy controller out to the audience (this time Kristian) who really gets into it, chopping and filtering stuttering and laughing like a drain playing havoc with Ben’s tune while he thrashes away on stage. Its a nice juxtaposition and you can really see the advantage of headphones for this one as he’d be lost trying to play along to what’s issuing from the speakers."

Cambridge Music Reviews, 18th June 2014:

Live Review

"The Organ Grinder’s Monkey is talented guitarist Ben Garnett, inextricably linked to his laptop (‘Bill’), together on a restless quest to alter the form and structure of song. Describing the sound as ‘lo-fi glitch-rock’, he plays guitar and sings, interacting with loops and effects, triggered by guitar, pedals and voice.

Audience participation was taken to a new level when one of the crowd was given a controller for a personal real-time mix of one of the songs. In ‘See This Through’ at the end of the set, the staccato bursts of bass and percussion invaded the existing complex structure of melody and vocoder.

The ideas are strong, as conventional songs they stand up anyway but the constant diversions and changes sustain the listeners’ interest. Have a listen on Soundcloud, including some intriguing remixes of other people's songs…"

Sound On Sound Magazine:

Sound On Sound review