In one way, French duo Maninkari is pretty economical, with a trio of albums stemming from a single session under their belt. In another, their sprawling instrumentography and ambition point toward a less focused approach. Their latest comes from new sessions that the band proclaims to be more direct. Most of these are dark, seeking “the mystical white light.” They are sparse, rarely filling the acoustic space fully. Occasionally, as on the striking “Métempsycose II,” they reach into Reich-esque minimalist repetition, mixing acoustic strings with more synthetic drones. But the sense of direction is rarely as strong as it is on that track.
“Métempsycose I” reaches a particularly high state, although it ends abruptly in favor of the gurgling drum lurch of “Clamor.” “Le Mers Du Souffle” uses deep rumbling noise, followed by “Reve d’ideation III”’s melodramatic New Age keyboards. The buildups tend to be a bit restless – they are tinkered with a bit too much, compressing musical time and inhibiting the ecstasy the band is reaching for.
Maybe my head’s just not with these guys. But like Deaf Center’s Owl Splinters, which I reviewed for Foxy D. last year, I feel this is often lukewarm, is not too overwhelming in any direction, buried under ostentatious layers of digital processing, and frustratingly tepid musically.