CD Review

Mana ERG – “The Blind Watchmaker”

By Marcus Pan

The Blind WatchmakerAn effervescent collection of smoothly laid soundscapes that takes influence from drum ‘n’ bass, noir and techno with hints of dark imagery and interesting glitch. The Blind Watchmaker is such an interesting off kilter title than you can easily expect the strange noise that follows the spinning of the CD. Mana Erg’s fifth release thus far, Bruno De Angelis with Joe Erber, Tiberio and guest electro-composers Artemiy Artemiev and Dieter Moebius, have built a mix of weirdness that rivals masters like Atari Teenage Riot and Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

The funkiness of Bother opens the CD with a four on the floor drum ‘n’ bass mix-up built under static overtones and coalescing vocals. The overall feel is one of illucidity and encompassing madness. Bother closes with such a brain slamming series of feedback and static that you wonder how such a beat-centric piece can fade into such chaos. Wasps gets predominantly techno laced with background wisps of weird. Bruno’s vocals are even and touched with a hint of the strange to wire into the surrounding mix-up of techno soundage and ambient electro.

The Lynx slows us down to a loping rhythm and subtler movement. Cunctis Diebus is similar with its slower moving style but adds more of a drum ‘n’ bass solid beat to it while retaining its darker vision. Angel of Chaos is a very dark piece of work but cut into by pure funk rhythms and fat back snare drums. An interesting combination. Novi Mir picks up the pace with a swifter rhythm and stompier beat with Burno’s voice coming in more as a spit-rap than a sung lyric.

Burning Fields is an instrumental piece and takes on an experimental noise stance without as much anchoring rhythms or melodies we’ve heard on the rest of The Blind Watchmaker. Children of the Rubble gives me a solid Alien Sex Fiend reminder with the way the vocals are done. The album then closes with an untitled track at the very end that consists of almost a half minute of dead air as a buffer and then gets experimental like Burning Fields as it winds The Blind Watchmaker down.

Mana Erg’s The Blind Watchmaker was very different from anything else. That’s probably why I enjoyed it so much. Techno-glitch mixed with dark ambient can usually lead to a good, albeit strange, time and Mana Erg is no exception. You’re never quite sure where you’re going for the most part – it could be stompy and upbeat like Bother or weird and off kilter like Burning Fields. But unless you’re having a bad flashback day, it’s usually a really nice place to hang for a while.

Contact Information:
Mana ERG
Post: BDA, 9 Chalkers Lane, Hurst Pier Point, West Sussex, BN6 9LR, UK