Apart from the reality of the thing itself, I think what I find most admirable about the total package for the Monster Book split between Michigan’s BerT and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Triangle and Rhino is the fact that it’s basically self-released. Sure, it’s two bands contributing, but it’s put out through BerT‘s Madlantis Records imprint, self-financed and self-realized. Pretty fucking impressive.
Monster Book (review here) was released in August. Limited to 300 copies in a green swirl 12″ vinyl (seen above), it also includes a CD compilation of this and past BerT/Triangle and Rhino joint releases, a full-size poster, and the titular book itself, a 40-page mini-’zine with interviews, bizarre art, tiny, tiny text and much more.
Let’s take a closer look (click any image to enlarge):
The Vinyl Covers
From the start, it’s obviously a homemade job. The cover for BerT’s side (top) has the name of their side’s EP — Wall of Bees — and the Monster Book title itself, and the back has Triangle and Rhino‘s cover for In the Company of Creeps the hand-numbering for the vinyl. Mine’s either #154 or #159. Hard to tell. Both covers are dark, but textured as well, so right away, the physical presence of the release is important as well as the music.
Monster Book marks BerT‘s debut on vinyl. The picture there doesn’t really capture it, but the record itself is gorgeous with a deep green splatter running through it. They say your first time should be special, so there you go.
Poster artist Craig Horky managed to capture all the charm of stoner rock in one poster. I mean think about it: farting unicorns, crappy movie references, skull mountains, band names, a wizard (who in himself kind of looks like John Cleese in Monty Python and the Holy Grail; bonus points) and a nudie lady with junk in the trunk. If you could actually draw the riff to “Sweet Leaf,” this is what you’d come out with.
From what I can gather from my copy and the image at the top of this post, the images airbrushed onto the CD sleeves vary, but mine is a bird in relief and I dig it a lot. It stands out from the rest of the release, but since I seem to be the last person on the planet who gives a hairy fuck about the CD format, it’s cool to see them extend the effort and attention to detail.
None of these pictures are to scale with each other, but I still wanted to give some sense of the size of the ‘zine included with Monster Book, so taking my best middle school science class reasoning, I put a quarter next to it. Above is the front cover. Here’s a look inside:
BerT, who hail from Bath, in Michigan, interviewed a bunch of bands from the local scene in around Lansing — Cavalcade, Hordes, Liquified Guts, Elk Nebula, Icicles and many more — and included their Q&As in the 40 pages of this ‘zine, interspersing hijacked images with original art:
The whole affect is bizarre and more than a little deranged, but also thoroughly awesome. While listening to the array of fucked sonics on the split itself, thumbing through the ‘zine (thumb carefully, papercuts are a looming threat no less sinister than Triangle and Rhino‘s noise), it makes the experience even more complete. Who doesn’t like to read with a record on?
Here’s the back cover:
One last bit of charm before they leave off. I guess the back cover sums up a good portion of what Monster Book is all about — despite the massive amount of effort that went into making it, nobody here is taking themselves too seriously — but really, it’s the whole thing that’s worth celebrating, not just one aspect or another.
If you want to check out more on the Monster Book split between BerT and Triangle and Rhino, hit up the Madlantis Records website.
And in case you need more visual evidence, here’s BerT‘s video for “Heart Shaped McBubba”: