Music that marries electronic and organic elements with jazz is a genre I can only really think of two artists really pulling off - Amon Tobin and Squarepusher. After listening to Swords Of Truth by Prismatic Mantis I found a third.
Prismatic Mantis is the sonic vision led by musician, composer and producer Mark Reynolds. Reynolds plays guitars, piano, keyboards, vocals, vibraphone, bass, moog, marimba, synthesizers, violin, cello and sampling on Swords of Truth. The multi-instrumentalist didn't hog all the glory for himself. Reynolds calls on a number of talents to contribute but most notable would have to be Brian St. Pierre on drums. I don’t much space to go on and on about his drumming but it’s exceptional. It's something you just need to listen to.
Let me say right now that this is an amazing album. It’s so technically impressive but also aesthetically pleasing. From a technical perspective the rhythms and timings were almost too hard to wrap my head around. Possibly the best comparison would be Steve Reich. The perfect blend of bass, guitar, drums and synths overlap creating a concoction of rich instrumentation. I am also so happy that the quality of the recording was professional so I could hear everything clearly.
This album will even appeal to people who appreciate a simple pop song. Reynolds implements vocalists as well as himself who bring a pop sensibility to the tracks making it appealing to a wide demographic. Be forewarned that there is far too much going on with this album to wrap it up with this review but I am going to mention a couple of highlights.
If you immediately want to have your mind blown skip to “DreaMania.” This is a nine-plus-minute behemoth that I can honestly call epic. There is a surplus of changes in the song that seem to only get better. There are arpeggiated synths, drum solos, sporadic vocal passages, a sweet jazz guitar solo and about twelve other things I haven't mentioned.
Another highlight is the slick “In A Silent Way.” It is a sweet hybrid of hip-hop and jazz that feels smooth. It descends and is the type of song you are hoping that they are playing at the best lounge in the city. Don’t’ miss the trumpets on “Swords of Truth” or the bossanova on “Oceanova.”
Swords Of Truth is full of so much instrumentation and so packed to the brim with sounds it made sense Reynolds ends with a seven-plus-minute ambient piece entitled “Space Brother and Sisterhood Calling.” It serves as the calm after the storm and was a fitting way to end it. I don’t have anything else to say except this is essential listening.
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