As Funky Monkey, Mark Bown and Gerard Johnson are best remembered for the highly collectable series of seven inch singles released on their own Funky Inc. label between 1996 and 2002. They also released three albums which appeared in the independent chart and enjoyed critical and commercial success.
They re-formed as The Electric Opera in 2008 with vocalist Elaine Johnson, a more electronic sound and a new focus on
creating visual art to complement their music.
Praise for the Monkey
“Funky Monkey has been troubling me for several
days now. One part of my brain says this is twaddle,
the sort of aural wallpaper that gave the seventies
and the Casio keyboard a bad name. The other part
of my brain switches off, revels in the glorious
catchiness of it all, and compels me to dance
around the kitchen.
So what’s new?
The Monkey is of the moment, in the best retro style.
Filling in the space between French airheads Air,
strings maestro Craig Armstrong and the burgeoning
loungecore movement, the simian one has produced
an irresistible slice of keyboard driven, string-laden,
sample-heavy pop funk.
Funky Monkey is ahead of the game.
It’s difficult to know where it all goes right for Funky
Monkey. A list of possible influences makes for
depressing reading: Vangelis, Moloko, Money Mark
and synthetic fabrics. On the plus side, this is the
mutant offspring of hip, dub funk, smokey jazz joints
and the theme from Mission Impossible. Funky
Monkey has a design studio and was responsible for
the artwork for The Chemical Brothers. The Brothers
could learn a trick or two from him.”
“Former Saint Etienne keyboard player Gerard
Johnson and graphic designer Mark Bown live up to
their moniker. The duo’s mix of big beat antics, even
bigger riffs and cinematic lounge collude to provide
hip-swivellin action. Vocal contributions from Denise
(Primal Scream) Johnson lend a Screamadelica vibe,
while Sarah Cracknell adds some lipstick gloss
“Equal to Air in the league table of emotional
poignancy, but not quite as pretentious. As deep
as Massive Attack, but not from Bristol. As clever
as Kruder and Dorfmeister but not as well hooked-
up. Genius comedown classics – and we don’t say
that lightly round here.”
“Funky Monkey mixes rich orchestral strings,
funky beats and gliding melancholic melodies
into a captivating 60’s/90’s soundclash.”
“Salacious and slinky”
“Atmospheric modus operandi”
“Electronica at its most sophisticated”
“Give this man the next Bond score, now!”
“Fantastic groove monster”
“Downtempo album of the year”