The Organ Grinder's Monkey

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The Organ Grinder's Monkey is the brainchild of Brighton-based musician/producer Ben Garnett. Essentially a solo project masquerading as a duo, Ben provides guitar and vocals while his laptop/best friend "Bill" handles beats and FX. The resulting sound is an attempt to combine the glitchy stutter and madness of Bill's favourite electronic artists (Aphex Twin, Squarepusher) with the freewheeling maverick indie-rock of Ben's youth (Super Furry Animals, The Boo Radleys, Grandaddy). A shared love of 8-bit computer game sounds provides further inspiration.

"False Economy" is the name of their latest EP, released in November 2019, with the pair planning to gig regularly into the new year year. Live shows so far have included successful supports with fellow one-man-band Thomas Truax and indie-rockers The Wave Pictures. The challenge of recreating the complex TOGM sound live is met by employing a variety of technological tricks: Ben feeds the sound of his guitar and voice through Bill's circuits in order to record and loop live parts, triggering instruments and samples via a MIDI pedal-board.

Ben’s guitars and vocals bounce along on Bill’s broken beats, all the while being looped and twisted through banks of digital FX to create new shapes and unpredictable forms, but never sacrificing the underlying pop sensibilities. "Audience participation [is] taken to a new level" as the duo allow gig-goers to perform a real-time remix of one Sega-inspired track using a modified game controller:

The Organ Grinder's Monkey live at The Portland Arms, Cambridge
Photo by Bad Timing

"A restless quest to alter the form and structure of song...The ideas are strong, as conventional songs they stand up anyway but the constant diversions and changes sustain the listeners’ interest."
Cambridge Music Reviews, live review

"Jittering drums, bass pulses, odd swoops, heavily processed vocals, everything stopping and juddering in bizarre places...The whole set seems like a battle between his innate song-writing ability and the flighty imagination that just wants to turn this knob, try this effect, stutter edit."
Spirit of Gravity blog, live review

"I’ve rarely seen someone take such care in making the drama of their music fit the lyrics of each song, and it works beautifully...this is as much about performance as it is the music itself. Highly recommended."
Go Play Listen blog, live review

"Each of the three songs takes the listener on a bewlidering bobsleigh ride, populated by glitchy beats, weird processed vocals and continual twists and turns...Exhilerating, but exhausting."
Sound On Sound review of Man Against Machine

The Organ Grinder's Monkey live at Sticky Mike's Frog Bar, Brighton
Photo by Andrew Farmer