CDS, Glyptique, 2006
I’d never actually heard anything by Mana ERG before, only seeing the name every once in a while. Fronted by English musical madman Bruno de Angelis, Mana ERG actually have several releases behind them, including the very well received “The Blind Watchmaker”, released in 2004.
The new EP, Red Dust, is a nice little three-track release with some very interesting songs to say the least. It’s all very accessible, yet at the same time very experimental and at times even pretty hard. The genre Red Dust can be placed in is very hard to define, as it seems to be based on an electro/synth pop inspired sound, but the beats are at times both so hard and textured, and the soundscapes so rich and detailed that I’m also drawn to make associations with both heavy, old school industrial and hard EBM, as well as cut-up, spastic IDM. And even then, that doesn’t cut it, because I would be leaving out the heavy, dragging, almost garage-rock like quality to the melodies and basslines.
Bruno’s characteristic, slightly raspy vocals are perfect for the electro pop-like base melodies, and they’re contrasted by the oddly fitting warm, soprano vocals of Deborah Roberts. What’s interesting about the lyrics is also that they’re not afraid to experiment with them and play around with the pitch and time stretching The lyrics are completely in tune with the almost madcap, contradictory experimental sound of this otherwise melodically poppy and highly accessible EP – being satirical and humourous, as well as political, dark and serious at the same time, with odd tidbits of interjections scattered throughout all three songs. The attention to detail is astounding.
In conclusion, Red Dust is a brilliant release. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s pretty damn close. If you, like me, are generally fed up with the state of melodic electronic industrial and synthpop today, you will find this a very needed and highly innovative little gem of an EP, and well worth your money.
— Jonas Mansoor