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  Building a Working Model  
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I like this disc. An understated techno-pop with a strong melancholia running the length of it with twittering undercurrents of glitch, the sound of this album sneaks into your head through consciousnessí back door, by-passing the ears and entering through the spinal column. Itís really quite excellent. All of the strings (guitars, upright bass, cello) are played on the lower registers, giving the entire disc a subterranean depth. The sound is the aural equivalent of a mist shrouded London morning. I am fond of underground spaces. I am a big fan of British weather patterns. ThusÖ

The press materials that accompanied the promo I received quote a review that described the album as ďEric Bachmann of Crooked Fingers singing over Arab Strap.Ē I donít quite agree with that description. Bachmannís croak isnít really the voice I hear, and neither Arab Strap nor Crooked Fingers really capture the minimalist undertones of the compositions. Rather, what I hear is another sort of Bachmann influence, specifically the production he adds behind the boards on both Azure Ray records. In fact, Mantissa suggests to my ear very much a male Azure Ray. Simple guitar melodies, suppressed, melancholic vocals, all wrapped up in board effects and programmed loops augment a nicely understated percussion line. Very much Azure Ray with a male voice, or perhaps Bachmannís late-90s alter ego Barry Black updating his sound for the aughts.

All in all, I like this disc very much. It doesnít really translate into driving music but it does make for a very good 40 minutes in the headphones. The band has spent the last couple of years exiting its studio birth cocoon, adding two new members (Marc Cuba on bass, Melanie Anyon on drums) to the original two-piece (Brian McGrath, Nathan Jones) to complete its stage presence. It will be interesting to see where they go from here. Becoming a live band will inevitably alter the sound and balance of their next disc, but one hopes they donít stray too far from this model.

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