Spain - Full Moon 81 - 05/16/03
When a band has reached a status of popularity like Manta Ray have, each and everyone of their
movements is observed with the same passion as scepticism. It's not easy (not in any place in the
world, but definitely not in Spain) to find a place in the music business just by doing whatever
you want, whichever way you feel it, in every moment of your career. And making it last for more
than ten years... it seems nearly a miracle to me.
But this is just what these four guys from Xixón (Gijón in Spanish, but they
prefer to use their own dialect) have accomplished from the very first of their releases, in 1995,
entitled just with the group's name. A collection of sounds, feelings, landscapes and emotions that
gets complete now with their fourth album, Estratexa, apart from some collaborations with
artists like Schwarz or French myths Diabologum. Some might say this is not as brilliant as their
previous works. Colder, I'd rather say. Raw. Rectilinear. While their three first albums somehow
brought to mind feelings belonging to other arts such as cinema, painting or poetry, this time
architecture seems to be the reference for these new compositions. And thus, structures, rhythms
and repetitions win the battle over former melodies, cabaret atmospheres and soul disillusions.
They say it is a reaction to these times we are living. Where there was light, even if it was
crowded with shadows, it is anger now. Where there were dreams, though sometimes in the shape of
a nightmare, it is fight this time. For instance, we find in "Rosa Parks" the first explicit social
demand in a Manta Ray song, making reference to the first black woman who dared to sit in the
white-part of the bus in the 50-60s American society.
You can call it rock. Maybe post-rock would fit better. Some have talked about math-rock. Well,
definitely, this is not Don Caballero, Oxes or Lightning bolt, but sure there is some of it in
"Estratexa". Whatever you may call it, it will sure need all the attention your ears can pay,
for this is not an easy record. They have never been easy, but this time you can't even hold to
the rays of light that used to be in their first albums. I wouldn't be surprised if Manta Ray
become an instrumental band in their next work. Thinking about that for a moment, it appears to
be the obvious next step.
The record also brings Manta Ray to a new label, Acuarela, which sure must mean a bigger
support to the band. The album will be published in several European countries, and their
current tour has already landed in places such as Moscow, Rome and Lisbon. If the people's
reaction is half as enthusiastic as it is in Spain, we could be perhaps talking of the new dEUS
or Programme, to mention a couple of similar non-English bands with an international reaching.
A band that NEEDS to be discovered, and a record that must be heard to understand any of
their future movements.
Copyright © 2003 Luis Mata