Friday, 2 January 2015

Mantra Machine - Nitrogen (Album Review)

Nitrogen cover art

Mantra Machine

25th November 2014

The songs:

1. Andromeda
2. Stinger
3. Predator
4. Thistle
5. Nitrogen
6. Ultrabase
7. Dunajam(bonus track)

The Band:

Jeroen Schippers - drums
Paul Geerts - guitar, synths
Tjø van Zuijlen - bass guitar


Sprung to life in Amsterdam in 2012, Mantra Machine hit the ground running. They quickly released an EP, 'Stage One' before commencing to work on their first full-length, 'Nitrogen', which came out in November 2014. Like it's predecessor the album is self-released and why I don't know, because these guys deserves greater recognition. However, keeping it DIY is many times a better thing than being on a label. Don't know if a revival is underway or if I've simply been blind, but 2014 has brought numerous excellent instrumental releases focusing on stoned, spaced and psyched out tunes. I couldn't be happier and my elation is even bigger with the addition of Mantra Machine.

Slow and soothing 'Andromeda' initiates this space trip as you wake up from deep sleep. Maneouvering the starship called Mantra Machine, the band are the perfect host on this journey through the interplanetary map. Building up gradually, the music becomes slightly faster and heavier only to slow down creating beautiful visions and soundscapes in the process. And this is the band's trademark which definitely sets them apart in the best possible way. 'Stinger' starts off even slower and is more mantric until a surprising explosion leads to some excellent jamming indeed. The song reminds me in part of Admiral Browning. Kind of a bad trip at first with a heavy Kyuss-esque bass line, 'Predator' moves elegantly into slow blues territory before picking up the pace. It's so rewarding as a listener to hear the trust the band members have in each other. What I mean by that is regardless what either of the three guys does, the others picks up on it immediately. That creates unshackled music which flows freely lifting it up to great levels. Oh yeah, 'Thistle' is a track and a half! Just close your eyes and let Mantra Machine sweep you away. Trippy and spacey it calms you down and cleanses you only to erupt halfway through which helps discharge any kind of negativity. To complete the healing process, a beautiful guitar solo leads to an ebb and flow of slow and fast parts weaving back and forth...which eventually sets me free. Fan-fucking-tastic!!!

The title track follows next and is heavy on the synth giving strong 70's vibes. This is further increased by Mantra Machine's love of jamming which they do so good. Don't fight it, there's no point, just let the guys take you away. Immerse yourself in their power and grow with it. A repetitive riff opens up 'Ultrabase' before going stoner of the faster kind. Suddenly the tempo drops hitting hypnotic levels and by the time you are in trance, the band kicks into gear melting your face while tearing it up. This amazing debut comes to an end with the bonus track 'Dunajam'. Clocking in at almost 10 minutes, it's the longest composition on the wax and also the one that incorporates all that Mantra Machine are. Jamming out in that elegant mix of stoned, tripped and spaced out sonic way they do so great, 'Dunajam' is the perfect closer. Hell, it demolishes regardless wherever in setlist you put it!

Mantra Machine were another unknown band to me before 'Nitrogen' dropped down in my mailbox. But like so many times before, my boss knows what I like and he was spot on sending these guys my way. Can't stress enough that all of you out there should get your hands on this amazing album. Help get Mantra Machine out there because great bands like them should not be ignored...ever!!!

Words by Håkan Nyman

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