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Mansun - Six CD (album) cover

SIX

Mansun

 

Crossover Prog

4.25 | 17 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sagichim
5 stars Alternative Progressive

What makes an already successful britpop band who have released one of the best charting albums of 1997, to release a full blown 100% prog rock album just like that?? I really don't know but it seemed like a commercial suicide at the time. So if you once dismissed Mansun for their highly acclaimed MTV hits, you might just wanna recheck this band and their album "Six". The band started their way in the mid 90's led by vocalist Paul Draper. Mansun were never actually your ordinary britpop band, their first album "Attack of the gray lantern" in spite of having huge success, was filled with cynicism and dark black humor, but in the end of it although using some symphonic elements and repeating one or two motifs the album was far from being a prog rock record. So does "Six" really worth the five star rating? I think it does mainly because this ambitious work makes me feel so happy and excited every time I'm listening to it.

Mansun are closest in comparison to Radiohead, Muse or other britpop rock groups or even a progy Smashing Pumpkins, only this album is much more progier than any of these mentioned. The giant leap they made from their debut album to this reminds me the same leap Radiohead made from Ok Computer to Kid A, something no one could ever predict. It's quite hard describing this album and nothing I could say can make you fully understand what it's like, mainly because there is so much going on in every second, and that's have a lot to do with the meticulous production. The album's mixing job, manipulations and audio trickery are really to be inspired by, not because evrything sounds so clear, it's because every element is precisely taken care of. The vocals have all kinds of effects, the drums sounds different in just about every song and sometimes in the very same song. Same goes for the guitars and for the overall mix, it all just drowns in all kinds of special effects and other hallucinating noises and that's the reason why it sounds so fresh and incredibly interesting.

This is one of those albums that you can't tell when a song begins and when it ends. That's because Mansun had a healthy dose of all kinds of short ideas and not a lot of complete ones. The transitions between each part to the next are sharp and sudden but eventually turns out to be right and exciting, that of course only contributes to the overall progy atmosphere. And that is something that at first listen could be hard to take but repeated listenings will make your saturated brain link all of those different parts. The album very much defines the Crossover genre, the melodies are catchy, accessible and infectiously beautiful. I would also like to comment on Dominic Chad's guitars, he is far from being a virtuoso and a lot of people would even consider him to be amateurish, but I must say everything he does just hits the spot! he is very tasteful and diverse, riffing, leads, solos, sound and all kinds of fill outs are just perfect, this is inspiration. In addition to that, he has a clever and enormously varied use of guitar effects, a lot of pissed off flangers are circulating the air.

"Six" proves that you don't have to be a virtuoso player or have long instrumentals to scratch that progy itch, it's enough to have a good vision and and a few new and inventive ideas to get the attention of the prog community. For generally describing the album I'll mention some of the highlights here. The opener "Six" is a good example, it starts with a beautiful verse and chorus but then climax into something else, this rocks! without any notice it suddenly eases up and falls into a quiet part, and it's only 2.5 minutes in. Much later it returns back to the main theme, and there goes a busy and crowded 8 minutes. "Shotgun" doesn't stay on the same idea and constantly jumps from one interlude to the other mixing three different verses (or are they choruses???), and if this 1.5 minutes wasn't enough already, they suddenly move to something that appears like a completely different song, it evolves further more and then easily returnes to the first part only with a different pace, as if it is clear it was the same song. Exciting!. The next part includes 4 relatively short songs which goes from one to the next, there are so many ideas going on here it's hard to keep up at first, but this is so well done and bravely connected. "Cancer" is another highlight taking god knows how many ideas into its 10 minutes, this is brilliant!

The lyrics are a crucial element to the understanding of the complete package. The album is divided into two acts like customary in a play or an opera, it's not by chance that the diving moment is an operatic interlude. Optimism is not the band's strongest side, the lyrics are desparately pessimistic and negative, and are apparently based on various books such as 120 Days of Sodom by Marquis De Sade and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne.

I hope more people can learn to appreciate this ambitious work, I know I have never heard anything quite like it. It's a rare statement even in Mansun's catalog. Inspite of the courage needed to record and produce "Six" in the most impeccable way, which have happened, they didn't go all the way through and the chosen singles for the album were brutally cut and reduced into 2 minutes songs, no wonder it didn't work. Anyway this is still a masterpiece, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

Sagichim | 5/5 |

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