Review of BLACK MONK TIME by Tad Hendrickson from CMJ New Music Report Issue: 513 - Mar 17, 1997
Jaded by life as a hard touring rock 'n' roll band of ex-army serviceman living in the Germany of the '60s, the Monks were a big fat bummer amidst the onslaught of crazed '60s German beat music. Wearing black monks' robes and shaving bald spots into the top of their heads, they just didn't fit in with the German scene. They did, however, take inspiration from fellow miscreants the Pretty Things and The Who to try to do something different. Their solution was to explore the darker, more primal, side of life. Wanting their music to reflect this, the Monks made their songs short and very direct, often with just a couple of lines of lyrics. Similarly primal, the sound was a menacing combination of volume, fuzzboxes and tribal-like drums. This disc compiles the highly-sought-after Black Monk Time LP and two singles, which represents the entire discography for their two-year existence.

Review of BLACK MONK TIME from SPIN: May, 1997
Mad scientists and studio conceptualists have long known that subtracting from a song can actually make it rockk harder. Think of the Ramones, think of drum 'n' bass - how dumb can you make it before it sounds def? And scientists of the mind have long noted just how little of our brains we actually use. What unites '60s proto-punk loonies the Monks and '70s punk artistes the Urinals is that they used even less of their brains than most of us. And as a result, they rocked like Carl Sagan.

The Monks were five American soldiers doing their duty in Germany; when their hitch was up they made a go of it as a guitar army on the local "beat club" circuit. Egged on by their German manager to go for novelty, the Monks perhaps took him too literally. "The idea," guitarist/singer Gary Burger explains in the notes to Black Monk Time, "was simplicity, repetitiveness, simple lyrics, and don't make the song too long." The record never recovers from the opener "Monk Time," an inflamed, incoherent statement of purpose that wags its tail like a happy stegosaurus. It's shocking to read that the band meant it as an antiwar protest. Between the banjo and contradictory, raving lyrics, what the song seems to be protesting is meaning itself.

The Monks' shaved heads and dark robes must have had a special resonance in the land of Martin Luther. They relished not being welcome. "You could find the tension point in the audience, you could watch them getting nervous," enthuses bassist Eddie Shaw. Europeans were further confused when Polydor released a Monks album in 1966; masterpieces like "Higgle-Dy-Piggle-Dy" and "Blast Off!" turn every instrument into a tool of rhythm. While Paul Revere & the Raiders were still headlining Portland bowling alleys, and before "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" had even been composed, the Monks were inventing a blitzkrieg bop far stronger than what soon followed. "It wasn't just a rock 'n' roll band," Burger notes wistfully. Heck, it wasn't even a rock 'n' roll band. This is found art.