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  Enraptured Records  
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  Indoor Miner  

Mantra is the first album from Slipstream, formed by former members of Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized Mark Refoy and Jonny Mattock. There's little here to suggest that they are ever going to reach the dizzy heights of either of the aforementioned bands, or even Lupine Howl who Mattock has also served, but Mantra isn't a bad album by any means.

Their antecedents show up from time to time, too. Rock'n'Roll (Burns Your Soul) doesn't just sound like a title that Jason Pierce could come up with. If you took away the bubbly electro beat that underpins it and added a gospel choir, it would sit very nicely on any number of Spiritualized albums. The Pierce influence is evident elsewhere, too, though I should stress that the treatment here is altogether perkier. Indeed, you can't help thinking that Refoy and Mattock are feeling that they missed out on playing in a more dancey style all those years ago. For instance, on tracks like Human Race and Aeiou, they appear to belatedly realising some long held desire to make the type of music that the likes of the Utah Saints and Leftfield made back then.

There's also a Liverpool feel to a couple of numbers. Endless Road could have been an early Lightning Seeds 45 whilst Never Understand has such a Wah-like intro that you're half expecting the mighty mouth of Pete Wylie to suddenly start bellowing about how great all things Mersey are. What we actually get, however, is some deep deadpan voice telling us that "In this world of pain and fear, there's a plan for everyone. There's a reason to be here as we circle round the sun". Oh, well I guess they have some sort of optimism in common!

Elsewhere, the opening Maybe Next Time is an infectious early 90s-like pop song, Burn Till You Die mixes a Stone Roses-like tune with a glam beat, whilst Psycho Paul opens with a 70s disco beat before some distorted guitars, a heavy bass line and some almost Rotten-esque vocals come in. There's a really good instrumental section in the middle where you can appreciate that bassline more fully, but unfortunately it's all spoilt slightly by a rather naff talk-over towards the end. It Is Said, meanwhile, opens like one of The Only Ones quieter moments before featuring, somewhat bizarrely, a guitar solo that sounds suspiciously Lynyrd Skynyrd-like, whilst High Time is the sound of Spiritualized covering The Farm's Altogether Now.

The highlight for me, however, is undoubtedly Meditation #1 which is possibly the number that sounds most influenced by early Spiritualized and is also reminiscent of the excellent Orichalc Phase single Violations from a year or so ago. There's also some nice acoustic guitar that mirrors what Dark Captain Light Captain are currently up to albeit with added distorted effects. Mantra certainly has its moments elsewhere, too the closing Saviour's Blues is another personal favourite as under all those wailing guitars there's an almost PIL-like relentlessness. Indeed I'm struggling to think of an actual number that I don't like, although I can't help thinking that it would be a much better album if they pursued Meditation #1's direction more fully.

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