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Port O' Monkeys

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Biography

Port O’ Monkeys gets their name from a fictional town on the shores of Mount Analogue, an island mountain described in the French surrealist René Daumal’s novel Le Mont Analogue. In this town where the ordinary world intersects with this imaginary realm, inhabitants from all around the globe and every era of history have managed to reach the island through the magical barrier that protects it.

With their debut album The Crossing, the members of Port O’ Monkeys seek to conjure up a similar space-time anomaly by bringing together an equally eclectic variety of instruments and music from every corner of the globe. Hailing from faraway places like a fishing village in the south of France, India, and Shanghai, and from familiar locales including Chicago, the Bronx, and Manhattan, the nine contributing members play nearly twenty instruments between them—some of them familiar (guitar, mandolin, flute, violin), some slightly eccentric (harmonium, guitarrone, bass trombone), and some downright exotic (oud, kanun, rebab, yayla tanbur, nyckleharpa).

And the ambitious repertoire found on their debut album takes a similar journey around the world, covering everything from traditional flamenco (“Alegrias/Rumba In E-Major”) to a Turkish Mevlevi (“Dervish”) to some rare surviving fragments of ancient Greek music (“Ancient Greek Medley”). With virtuosic flair and frightening ease, they jump from Northern Spain (“Jota”) to the mountains of Kabul (“Afghan Medley”).

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