Electronic Musician Editors Pick, December 2008


Monkey King is a colorful combination of Schrader's recognizably arousing orchestral maneuvers with an immediate melodic appeal, gentle harmonic textures, and electronic echoes of traditional Chinese instruments. While individual elements sound strangely familiar, the resulting entity is without direct reference, a style which is as timeless as it is futuristic and which revels an ancient mythology with the tools of today. Without a single doubt, this piece is the most accessible in Schrader's oeuvre.

Tobias Fischer - Tokafi




Wu Xing - Cycle of Destruction [19:22]

Monkey King

Part I - The Land of Ao-lai - The Birth of Monkey [8:45]

Part II - Monkey's Underwater Journey - The Staff of the Milky Way [9:42]

Part III - Monkey's Magic Dance - Jumping Buccha's Palm [7:00]

Part IV - Procession of the Immortals - Monkey Becomes a Buddha [11:30]


Hmmm...this is a very unusual album to say the least. Barry Schrader is a decidedly unconventional recording artist seemingly unconcerned with things like commercial appeal and popularity. Monkey King is divided into two segments. The first is entitled Wu Xing - Cycle of Destruction. This piece explores the five ancient Chinese elements: metal, wood, earth, water, and fire. But don't expect to hear the type of Chinese music you hear in your typical Asian restaurant. This lengthy piece which lasts almost twenty minutes is a modern excursion into the world of atmospheric electronics. It's a strangely odd and hypnotic trip to be certain...and if you turn it up really loud you might just begin to hallucinate. The second segment of this album (entitled Monkey King) centers around a fictional character in the 1550 book Journey to the West by Wu Cheng-en. Divided into four pieces, this 37 minute creation is a pure work of audio art. Monkey King is more musical than the first track...but there are plenty of unexpected surprises in the music. The track is sometimes very restrained and ambient...while at other times bursts of startling sound seem to attack the unsuspecting listener. Wildly inventive and unconventional, this album will appeal to folks who are drawn to truly strange instrumentals. Chock full of imagination and creativity. Highly recommended.

(Rating: 5+++)



Mr. Schrader's newer electroacoustic release, Monkey King (2008), offers the listener a sonic exploration into ancient Chinese tradition and lore. ...This sonic journey through birth, growth, trial, and metamorphosis is expertly crafted by Mr. Schrader, who skillfully intertwines timbral, rhythmic, and harmonic material to create an enveloping, engaging soundworld. Layered rhythmic passages give way to dense sweeping textures as sounds expand and contract, developing, returning, and renewing. A slow tolling gong near the piece's end signifies the convergence of the deities, and a shimmering texture signifies Monkey King's enlightenment. Mr. Schrader's masterful illustration of Monkey King's story is satisfying musically, regardless of the listener's familiarity with the work's programmatic structure.

Elainie Lillios, Computer Music Journal