One of the most peculiar 60's avant garde/garage combos was formed in 1964 by five American GIs stationed in Germany under a name The Torquays. Started off as a very traditional surf & rock'n'roll outfit, the band's been bashing out all standards of the time and that included Chuck Berry tunes, Dick Dale instrumental compositions and The Beatles hits. The musicians were: Gary Burger (lead guitar/vocals), Larry Clark (organ/vocals), Dave Day (rhythm guitar/vocals), Roger Johnston (drums/vocals) and Eddie Shaw (bass/vocals). For about a year and a half they played in German clubs 7 days a week, up to 8 hours onstage and at a certain point they became bored with the same routine every night. Tossing down the worn format guys eventually turned to sound experimentation, getting rid of melody and focusing almost solely on a rhythm... on a savage, primitivistic over-beat.
However, their new style did not come out of the blue. It took about a year to get the sound right. Musicians experimented all the time and although big part of rehearsal-coined pieces were total failures and some of the songs were clearly terrible, they kept the ones which had something special. Over time these compositions became more defined and with a careful polish eventually gained a real ass-kicking edge. One of the most important components of the new sound was guitar feedback, discovered by Gary Burger independently of many English bands like The Kinks or The Troggs, which still are heralded as the main inventors of this powerful effect. In the same time the band changed it's name to The Monks and guys shaved tops of their heads off making a real statement as well as playing for publicity, convinced to do so by their German managers. In 1966 they recorded their one and only album "Black Monk Time" for German Polydor – an instant killer LP. It's brutal minimalism cannot be matched by anything else created in the 60's, maybe except two first LPs of The Sonics.
Beyond any doubt it's one hell of an album! The music and lyrics are cut to the bare bones, which saves it from being dated by the musical frills, that many other recordings garnish according to any fad there is at the moment. The Monks crafted their songs all together blending individual influences and melting them into a single, hybrid style. "Black Monk Time" is basically the eruption of noise and rhythm of five fierce refugees from blues structures and beat/pop harmonies, which dominated early 60's music due to enormous success of British Invasion. The Monks didn't want to be another copycat act and what they offered instead was dark, twisted smash of guitar and Vox organ cacophony, a thick and vigorous drum bottom, fat bass lines and schizophrenic vocals with occasional yodeling. That can be heard all over "Black Monk Time", but especially on I Hate You, Complication or Monk Time, which resemble unstoppable brain ripping, immediately getting to your head. The music has been so far ahead of it's time, that years were to come before somebody took the same path. From today's perspective "Black Monk Time" paved the way to many later kraut rock, EBM, industrial and punk rock acts, which used creative stripdown of the musical stucture as a base, even without being aware of the door open already.
In 1999 The Monks reunited to play in New York, Las Vegas and Spain, which brought fans from all over the world to see this dark legend on stage after such a long time. Although musicians never gained recognition at their time and "Black Monk Time" was released in USA for the first time on CD as late as 1997 by Infinite Zero label – it was virtually impossible in 1966 due to blatantly nihilistic, anti-social message – The Monks are considered today one of the most important 60's garage groups if not the most important one. Definitely, they were the biggest guitar music experimentalists of their time, who came up with an unique vision of sound. Original pressing of their only LP is today practically untraceable and those who have it will never put it up for sale. Fortunately, it was repressed by Polydor in 1979 and then in 2009 from the original masters – all three pressings released only in Germany. The last one is still around, but it's price is going up, so if you wanna hear this mythical album from a quality copy, hurry up and grab it!