Teeth, Toes And Other Trinkets
Experimental avant-garde act Manes have been through a bevy of biological style changes, with their arguably strongest work being featured on Vilosophe (2003)and How The World Came To An End (2007) and then dipping into the realms of pure black metal on Solve Et Coagula (2009). There might have been other work after that area, but I slowly became disinterested in Manes at that point, scratching my head and wondering what the fuck had happened to them. For a band who even mixed rapping into their avant-garde sound, something unheard of and noteworthy in the sense that I’ve never heard it before; I was wondering if the band had hit a wall so thick that they’ve been trying to climb over it for about six or seven years now. Then came this, something – anything from these guys that shows they’re still active and hopefully not lost in the dense forests of Norway.
Teeth, Toes And Other Trinkets is not a new album from Manes, but rather it is a collection of some of their scrapped material and B-sides that show the band still at their respective prime. ”Blanket Of Ashes” was just what I needed, with its return to all things avant-garde and melodic, carrying with it a sorrowful clean approach that more than made up for all the band’s previous work. A live version of “Ende” comes next, sounding a bit fuzzy while still reminding me just how good this song was when it first appeared. “Ease Yourself Back Into Consciousness” seems also a good fit for this album, as it displays tingling electronics with their unmistakable approach to vocal theatrics. It’s a very deep piece, something that carries a heavy weight of emotion behind it. All of the Satanic stuff that followed was like a taking a jackhammer to this beauty, personally. A remix of “The Cure-All” is included, but it’s not as good as the original. “One More Room” sees the band a bit more commercial, definitely injected with pop and radio ready; it’s easy to see why they chopped this one off. But it’s still a good track, nevertheless. “Nobody Wants The Truth” features turntable antics, yet is still quite reserved in its icy magnificence. “Tzolv” is an electronic piece that was likely scrapped, but there was nothing really wrong with it. As a matter of fact, it’s really quite good as it sets up for a frosty atmosphere and makes me think of the northern lights. “Transmigrant” is a paranoid electronic piece that could’ve been used for something. It’s nothing extremely noteworthy, but certainly had some things going for it; as is also displayed a little bit of guitar and slight bits of horror atmosphere. My personal favorite track on the release is “Nodamnbrakes” which brings back our friend the guitar with electronics in tow, and despite the mess of sound clips; features an ultimately memorable chorus. You have to wait a bit for the song to warm up unfortunately, but when you do; it becomes worth the trouble. The next song is “Diving With Your Hands Bound (Nearly Flying)” which is a bit of an older, possibly unfinished piece that comes in at almost ten full minutes in length. I hope that maybe the band’s next release will feature this rough demo as a finished product. I think that we deserve to hear it completed. Finally, there’s an 8-bit version of “Deeprooted” which I’ll definitely support. I’m a huge fan of classic video game music and a definite “retro gamer” in that sense. I’m just trying to imagine the kind of level that this music might be used in. Perhaps something in an icy cave, maybe for an unused level in the NES classic, Wizards And Warriors. The background for the level would most certainly be blue and require quite a bit of platforming with the added element of ice physics.
Manes has proven that they’ve definitely brought their own approach to the avant-garde sound, and with even these cast-offs, a glimpse of what the band used to be and can be again does seem to glimmer into the horizon. While not all the tracks on this album are as good as the records that they were never featured on, it’s ultimately better than the odd black metal style the band later brandished into which saw me and Baphomet himself (believe me, as I talked to him personally about it) horribly upset. Here’s to hoping that this is just a sign of things to come from the band and that they’ll get back to making the phenomenal music that they set out to make in the very beginning. (Eric May)
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