Best known for the loungy trip-hop track "Daydream in Blue," a 2001 hit that has a lengthy and convoluted history of its own, the British production duo I Monster specialize in psychedelic, electronic-tinged pop confections that are often based around samples from easy listening records and other unlikely sources. Jarrod Gosling and Dean Honer met in the record section of the Sheffield City Library in the early '90s, an era when that city -- which had already been the site of major developments in electronica, during the heyday of synth pop in the 1980s -- was witnessing another musical renaissance with the flourishing of so-called "bleep music," thanks to the IDM pioneers at Warp Records. Inspired by the burgeoning local scene as well as their shared poverty and abundant free time, the pair got to work creating some abstract electronic sounds of their own, under the name the Anderson Shelter. Five years into their collaboration, having succumbed to self-described "bleep fatigue," they shifted gears in 1997 with a new name (taken from the 1971 British horror film I, Monster) and a new sample-based, song-oriented approach to music-making. The first product of these efforts, 1999's self-released album These Are Our Children, was given away for free, in a spirit of idealism. Around this time, Honer, also a sometime confederate of Add N to (X), got involved with the similarly styled electronic trio the All Seeing I, who found some mainstream chart success with their version of Sonny & Cher's "The Beat Goes On" and were even invited to contribute their production skills to Britney Spears' cover of same.
I Monster were put on hold to some extent for a few years (during which time Gosling stocked up on progressive rock LPs while working at a record shop), but they resurfaced in 2001 with a reworked 7" version of "Daydream in Blue," which had initially appeared on Children. The song, which samples heavily from a 1970 cover by the Gunter Kallmann Chorus of the Wallace Collection's 1968 "Daydream" (itself based on a melody from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake), adding incomprehensibly vocodered vocals and a bassline from Portishead's "Glory Box," was reissued yet again on London's Instant Karma imprint, eventually reaching the Top 20. (Coincidentally, the Beta Band used the same sample for their song "Squares," which was also released in 2001.) Since then, the song has appeared in countless soundtracks and advertisements, and cropped up again as the basis for Lupe Fiasco's "Daydreamin'" from his 2006 debut. I Monster followed this success with the singles "Who Is She?" and "Hey Mrs." and the album Neveroddoreven, which was similarly released several times, including on Atlantic in 2004. After another extended period out of public earshot, I Monster reappeared again in early 2009, offering free online downloads of their long out of print debut and issuing a soul-inflected new single, "Sucker for Your Sound," in advance of the album A Dense Swarm of Ancient Stars, released that March. ~ K. Ross Hoffman