Mano is an instrumental hard rock band consisting of Joe LaRocca (flute/vocals), Greg Firak (guitar),Collin O'Brien (drums), Parker Grogan (bass), Najeeba Syed (electric violin) and Desiree Miller (cello) that combines world, middle eastern and classical influences.
Their self-titled album Mano is an intense, larger than life sounding album that feels thematic. It has some serene psychedelic moments as well as crescendos that will knock your socks off. Take for instance the opener “Seven on Four.”
It’s a sprawling song that starts rockin middle eastern scales; the song reaches a breaking point about a minute-and-a-half in where the percussion stops and you are whisked off to the desert. Its sounds like a mystical veil of euphoria that sounds somewhere between Ravi Shankar and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Once the drums come back in the melodies become somewhat frantic as they ascend and descend without a warning. Overall it’s one awesome ten-minute-plus song.
The opening track was one of my favorites but I greatly enjoyed many other tracks like “Merhaba.” As you will notice when you listen, the song is incredibly dynamic and goes from pulsating rhythms to lush ambience.
The other standout track to me was “The River.” It’s a song that gets pretty dark, almost ominous ,at times. At around the five-minute mark the song gets eerie as it builds itself back up. Along the way you could make an argument it sounds like Nine Inch Nails. The closer “Lungta” gets into drone metal territory which I was also digging.
Mano sounds great on this album from the production to the engineering. Best of all it's a band where you can tell they are playing in a room together with real instruments. Recommended.
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