Garden of Light
Independent/Rough Peel Music
Recorded over a couple of days in 2009 – then slipped out into the world last year, soft-release style, and now thanks to the good folk at Wellington’s Rough Peel Music this is available on vinyl (and CD) – via their Rough Peel Records imprint. It’s the first full-lengther by The Mantarays, a guitar/organ/drums trio that marches together through Cumbia, surf-rock, improv and space-jazz jams.
On the opening one-two of surf-music wiped out and reworked, Dancing Round The Fire and Launching Pad, Anthony Donaldson sounds like an army of drums/drummers and it’s perfectly set up for the swarm of bees that is Daniel Beban’s guitar – his lines scurry and scamper, they flock and ascend, they’re supported by the swirl of Nigel Patterson’s organ shapes.
Vanishing Point is moody soundtrack stuff, Bog has a clatter of retro-rock buzz about it and just as you think this is all great but all subverted surf-rock clanging, things really change pace with the crepuscular vibe of the tile track, a slow-crawl through Doors-vamping instrumental textures and leading on to the thoroughly creepy-but-wonderful Gentle Strobe, an intermission of sorts before Shey Kournai somehow mingles together the type of jazz Ginger Baker was prone to in the mid-90s with Spaghetti Western soundtrack soundalikes and buddah-bing-boogaloo.
What makes this such a great journey – and such a great album – is that the players all move as one; so intuitively locked in, but offering each other breathing space, room to crawl, then walk, then run. Actually, most often, they burst off in a sprint, then move to a jog when it suits, lurching to a crawl to disarm as much as it is ever to draw a breath.
They march together. They march as if they invented their own version of a New OrleansR&B chant, they march like madness. And the closing spiral of needling guitar meddling, Raindance, is a short, sharp summation of all that is great about this band. It signals not so much the end of the album more the cue to line it up again – to dive on in for another (and another) head spin.
And more…and more…