23 Sep 2023

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Mana Mushroom - Album Review: Mana Mushroom

30 Aug 2023 // A review by Rob Harbers
Poneke’s Mana Mushroom’s eponymous self-titled debut EP has emerged into the world, and it’s a banger! Showing the benefit of a long period of gestation in the live arena, this impressive instrumental collection has its aim stated as “to stimulate listeners' senses in a way which evokes a sense of wonder about the world and our place in it", and it achieves this aim. It’s quite possible that such stimulation could be enhanced with the aid of some fabulous fungi, but it’s not my place to suggest any such consumption..

Leading off with the 12+ minute Battle Hill, the band’s progressive ambition, and inspiration, is front and centre. This track puts me in mind of a reverse version of King Crimson’s Red, thus harking back 50-odd years to a band some regard as the forerunners in the prog genre. Where KC lead pretty much straight off into the sonic onslaught, easing off the pedal later on for the quieter bits, this track starts with the more restrained, with a slow build in dynamics toward the first outburst of powerhouse riffola. In my book, to be evoking the pioneers straight out of the starting block is impressive stuff indeed! (not that the two tracks sound anything like each other, apart from maybe one random note, but they are both drawing on a similar spirit)

Backing up this opening statement of intent, the second track, Ultraviolet adds layers progressively on an elaborate riff as it builds toward a breakout just after the halfway point, before cycling back around to a lower intensity expression, and finishing strongly. This leads in to track 3, Meteorite, the shortest of this suite, weighing in at a mere five minutes. A Tool-reminiscent riff leads off, before a pause precedes the complete change of pace, breaking out into high-speed mode to show the power that has previously been held more in check, giving a tantalising glimpse into what could ensue if things were to get out of hand!

Closing out is Chapters, initially evoking a sped-up Kyuss, over an appealing base of dirty fuzz, then veering across the speed spectrum, cranking up and slowing down the beat, before climaxing in an elaborate breakout that unites all of the elements previously sighted, to finish the EP on a high, if slightly abrupt, note. Always leave them wanting more, is the expression that springs to mind here, as the music suddenly terminates, leaving the listener seeking exactly that!

A very impressive opening salvo in a career that promises much, this is definitely a piece worth the effort of exploring. I’d be interested to see the band in a live setting, where it’s easy to imagine these tracks absolutely taking off, so will be watching out in hope of such an opportunity. And I suspect they might be kind of fun guys! In the meantime, however, there’s just this sampler to keep on high rotation, while awaiting that day. Ch-Check it out!!


About Mana Mushroom

Fungus fueled, heavy progressive psychedelic jungle sounds from Aotearoa

"its hypnotic and vibey, they have some big crescendos, the whole thing sounds huge for a three piece."

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Mana Mushroom


Mana Mushroom
Year: 2023
Type: EP

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