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coverpic flag Spain - Full Moon 81 - 05/16/03

Manta Ray

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 e-mail address

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