Mana ERG - "Borderliners"
(BDA/Glyptique 2002, BDA008)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: August 2003
Mana ERG is based in England and is headed by one Mr. Bruno De Angelis. Borderliners, is a mini-CD (EP) release with French label Glyptique.
By combining LO-FI elements, honest but sedated punk angst ridden vocals, and intelligently conceived ambient musical landscapes coupled with some of the coolest over-driven guitars this side of the post NIN/Thrill Kill Cult era, Mana ERG gives listeners quite a varied and nostalgic musical journey.
Mana ERG must be broken down into different segments for this review to be fair - music, vocal performance, and the actual lyrics themselves.
ERG from a musical standpoint is rather impressive. The first track Rain Forever has a wonderfully sinister dark, ambient sheen. The LO-FI and purposefully destroyed drum loop (2:04), which really grooves the rest of the song, had me bobbing my head. Overall, not a bad listen. The remaining tracks, minus Track 3, (Remember, I’ll get back to that in a minute) took a similar path of layered LO-FI ambience, off kilter drumming, and way over-driven guitars that are all nicely pieced together to keep the vibe of the record. Good work there. However, Remember is the standout track on the release. The vocals, as performed by Deborah Roberts, are: chilling, dripping with emotion, sexy (and I’m talking hot, sweat laced, drippy multi-orgasmic sexy…she has the kind of voice that arouses male and possibly female sexual desire), punk influenced, well written, and well recorded. My heart started palpitating when I heard, no felt, this track and enjoyed the ride too. Is that Freudian? Could be.
Vocals and lyrics:
I get the feeling that Mana ERG is evolving. Everything works for me regarding Mana ERG except the lyrics and lead vocalist Bruno De Angelis. Vocally, Mana ERG just doesn’t work. The lyrics are slightly predictable, disjointed and rather confusing. Plus, De Angelis shouldn’t be fronting this band; he should be in the lab bringing everything together production wise. However, I am not merely taking a shot for the sake of it, Mr. De Angelis is a wonderful musician and, from an instrumentation standpoint, he is smart. He knows what to do, when to do it, how to react to what he’s done, and then how to make it sound really unique in the most interesting places e.g. outros, intros, choruses, breaks and so on. From an engineering stand point De Angelis knows what he is doing, and he knows what he is trying to accomplish in the studio.
Here’s a crazy idea:
De Angelis steps to the back of the project, puts Roberts up front and reworks the lyrics and melodic structure of the vocals. When this is done Mana ERG will own its genre and get the respect of millions. They’ll be sipping frosty alcoholic beverages with huge umbrellas on the island they just bought, laughing about the many quirks in the sound scan reporting system… 8,000,000 units…10,000,000 units, what’s the difference really?
For more information you can visit the Mana ERG web site at: http://www.manaerg.1me.net.
Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed by The New Digital Sound