Now here is a type of music you don’t hear every day. The members of Midnight Mangoes comprised of Ingrid Cheung (flute/vocals/lyrics), Greg Valou (guitar/hang drum/percussion/producer), Sally Zori (drum kit/percussion) and Chris McKnight (bass) blend styles like rock, Middle Eastern music, jazz and some other sub genres. I think in a lot of ways this can be labeled world music.
Their debut album Double Crown is centered on an eponymous trilogy about Set, the ancient Egyptian god of chaos. It’s a niche thematic topic and at the very least seems unique and original.
I have to admit there is something about some of these songs that feels like they would work in the theatre or a short production you would see at Disney. There is an over the top dramatic quality to the vocals that kept making thinking of an ensemble cast dancing to the music.
The album opens with “Double Crown I - Song of Set” that feels like it perfectly balances a Middle Eastern vibe with rock. It’s upbeat, festive and something you could imagine people dancing to. The sax solo is great. “The Juniper Tree” was a highlight that contained two distinct sections. It starts off at a slow, melancholy pace that has one of the best vocal performances. About half way the vibe becomes more lively but still contains a sense of mystery.
“Monuments to Gods” was one of the songs that felt it could come right out of play. In fact the next song “The Sleep of Endymion” has a similar feel. Another highlight is “Double Crown II - Night Winds” which starts off with some of the most inspired music. Once the verse hits the music it has a bit of an edge to it, which I liked. The bass was an integral element here.
I enjoyed the singing style on “Anansi Eyes” which has a subdued jazz vibe integrated in the Middle Eastern style. Good stuff. They close with a ten-minute epic entitled “Habaytak” which contains another one of the most inspired vocal performances.
Not everything worked for me on Double Crown. I certainly had my preferences but I also think that different people will have different preferences. There weren’t any songs that seemed like total duds. Overall Double Crown is definitely worth a listen. It offers something unique and niche.
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