Reviews

Published on January 16th, 2015 | by The Beige Baron

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Album Review: Painted Mantra by Mushroom Giant

A captivating voyage through time and space, Painted Mantra is Melbourne band Mushroom Giant’s most ambitious and ultimately successful album of their 13-year career.

At first glance, the group’s music invites comparison with that of other instrumental acts such as Pelican (whom the band shared a stage with on their recent Australian tour), Mogwai, God Speed You Black Emperor!, or rising Danish kraut/prog stars Pinkunoizu.

First rule of prog: there's no such thing as too many drumsThe truth is, each of Mushroom Giant’s songs passes through such a diversity of sonic terrains in such a short space of time that the band refuses categorization.

Event Loop opens in a wash of reverb guitar and shuddering bass, a clean guitar line soaring overhead before shifting into an extended dub-like sequence with ripples of delay, inhaling and exhaling like waves on a beach. It’s melodic, moody, and evocative—great to have on as you do some work at your desk or around the house. But at the same time, each composition persistently tugs you deeper and deeper into the sound.

The band’s supreme command of their instruments, skillful songwriting, and lush, three-dimensional production helps create a world for the music to inhabit.

Primaudial Soup, for example, builds and releases tension effortlessly, propelling itself forward with a sense of urgency that contrasts with more reflective pieces such as Triptych and Lunar Entanglement—both of which firmly establish the band’s prog-rock credentials.

Aesong begins in a dense swirl of Hammond organ, bass welling up from subterranean depths, before settling into a swaying canter that showcases Mushroom Giant’s mastery of the sweeping cinematic soundscape–a real highlight on this record.

A must for any fan of instrumental music

A must for any fan of instrumental music

The remarkable album centerpiece Scars of the Interior clocks in at over 13 minutes and finds the band at their epic best. The song passes through distinct seasons, each hinting of loss, hope, and redemption. It really is an impressive piece of art and is worth the price of admission on its own.

Painted Mantra, though, is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s one ambitious, sprawling canvas that demands to be absorbed at once and in its entirety. Each color should be savored as it bleeds into the next with impressionistic flair.

From poignant, delicate theme to exultant climax, this album seeks to express the inexpressible—and comes dangerously close to doing so.

 

Physical and digital copies of Painted Mantra are available on the Mushroom Giant bandcamp page.

 


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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.



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