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MANNA/MIRAGE

Canterbury Scene • United States


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Manna/Mirage biography
Named after THE MUFFINS' 1978 debut album (one of the essential Canterbury-related releases, MANNA/MIRAGE is the newest project by founding member Dave Newhouse (one of the band's two woodwind players). Not surprisingly, fellow Muffins Billy Swann and Paul Sears are also on board, as well as Newhouse's son George, guitarist Mark Stanley (of CHAINSAW JAZZ and THEE MAXIMALISTS), and newest recruit, Steve Pastena, on French horn. The ensemble's debut, released in the autumn of 2015, bears the title of Blue Dogs - a title inspired by a painting by artist and RIO/Canterbury fan Gonzalo Fuentes Riquelme (aka Guerrilla Graphics), which graces the CD cover. The album was mixed and produced by Mike Potter of Baltimore's Orion Studios, probably the most important venue for progressive music in the US.

Raff (Raffaella Berry)

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3.98 | 4 ratings
Blue Dogs
2015

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MANNA/MIRAGE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Blue Dogs by MANNA/MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.98 | 4 ratings

BUY
Blue Dogs
Manna/Mirage Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. A must for anyone into THE MUFFINS as Dave Newhouse spear-headed this project bringing along fellow MUFFINS Billy Swann and Paul Sears. Dave's son George also plays drums along with Paul Sears. We also get a guitarist and French horn player. The music is Canterbury in nature and I like how they give a nod to the past at times plus the humour on display. The album is named after the cover art, a painting by Gonzalo Fuentos Riquelme who happens to be a big fan of Rio/Canterbury.

"Canterbury Bells" is a top three and man what a feel good song this is for me. Like being home really, especially the Canterbury-like keyboards. Bass and a beat support and horns arrive around 1 1/2 minutes. A toe-tapper and head-bobber for sure. A calm 3 minutes in with piano only but soon the drums and keys join in. Horns again after 4 minutes as it stays relaxed. Keyboards end it.

"Duke Street" opens with keys that create a catchy melody before the horns join in. Back to the piano and some percussion before a bass horn or is that clarinet joins in playing a melody over top. Soon horns are blasting. It ends with a sample of a classy man speaking about music and theatre. It's funny.

"Muffin Man Redux" features blasting horns but they are restrained some are taken over by drums, an upright bass, guitar and horns. So much going on. This great sound goes on and on then the intro returns with drums this time. I like when it turns melancholic with a bass horn, percussion, other horns and atmosphere. A darker mood here. The drums signal a change as horns arrive in an upbeat and lighter mood, silly in fact. A change with dark piano lines and melancholic horns, drums and more. So good. Love the sound late too with the distorted keys, piano and drums before that sample of the original Muffin Man song ends it.

"Lost In A Photograph" opens with horns that drone before a beat and bass join in. This is laid back but it does turn louder with keys and horns before settling back again with a lazy horn over top. Themes are repeated.

"Blind Eye" is a top three although I'm not sure how "Muffin Man Redux" isn't in my top three but this is a really good album. This was my favourite right from the very first listen. That dark sounding organ to start sounds amazing before it kicks in with drums. So good! Electric piano only then it kicks back in with horns this time and some inventive guitar as the organ runs. Horns and drums to the fore as it changes then settles back with electric piano, horns and more. A dissonant horn starts to make some noise late.

"Shaving Time" brought HATFIELD & THE NORTH to mind right away. Bass and drums to start and they create this catchy rhythm. Soon horns and more join the fun. The tempo picks up as things get even more lively. Drums only before the clarinet joins in. Horns start to blast as it builds. Here we go! A lot of fun!

"Rovian Cue" is my final top three and maybe my favourite along with "Blind Eye". Man that piano is so uplifting to me as the horns and percussion join in. So beautiful when the flute arrives. Keyboards and piano impress here too. Why am I so moved? Tasteful horns are back then that catchy beat returns with horns then flute as themes are repeated.

Man this was too much fun and so well played and composed of course. Makes it inside my top 20 for 2015 so yeah this was one of the ones I missed a few years ago.

 Blue Dogs by MANNA/MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.98 | 4 ratings

BUY
Blue Dogs
Manna/Mirage Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars With a bit of a Canterbury Style music revival picking up steam it is no wonder that the USA's only true contributor to the sub genre, The Muffins would chime in with a contribution of new music. Only, mid- production one of the band's members had to excuse himself, leaving Dave Newhouse, Billy Swann, Paul Sears and friends with the decision of whether or not to move forward. Under the guise of the clear reference to the parent band's 1978 debut album of the same name, Dave and company decided to go ahead and finish the album in progress. Apparently revived by their recent work with Cuneiform label stable mate GUAPO and AltrOck Productions' HOMUNCULUS RES, as well as Richard Wileman's KARDA ESTRA projects, Dave and Paul, respectively, have gathered enough impetus and support to self-produce this album of seven songs which come in at a rather brief 36 minutes in length. And boy are we fortunate and am I happy that they did! I've been dancing around the house and in my car to the likes of the ear candy opener, "Canterbury Bells" (4:50) (10/10), ever since! Everytime I play this in the house my wife says, "That's so Seventies!" And I say, "So?!" The bass, drums, and steady yet-syncopated piano chords bounce us along at a nice walking pace while an odd array of horns and percussion build unusual chord and harmonic layers over the top. Just brilliant! Should be a soundtrack to a video/commercial! One of my favorite songs of the year!

2. "Duke Street" (4:47) opens a little more playfully, with a piano playing a little two-bar ditty over and over in a kind of 50s/60s be-bop style?like Duke Ellington (for whom the song is named and who is present via a tape recorded sound clip from an interview of his at the end of the song), Thelonius Monk, or even Paul Desmond. The foundation established, the jazzy brush-played drums, double bass, and multiple horns play in a kind of big band style?playing as a group in chordal unison while single instruments take turns soloing over the top. If I have any complaint about this song it's that there really is no significant shift of the foundation. (9/10)

3. Muffin Man Redux" (7:23), we find out toward the end, is a jazz song that is built over the ditty that we know as "Do you know the muffin man?" Until the avant shift at the 2:20 mark, the song presents itself as another small-scale big band song?not far from the Glenn Miller or Stan Kenton style. At 3:25 a drum interlude preps us for a kind of carnival-atmosphere in which, at the 4:13 mark, the "Muffin man" theme is presented. At 4:30 the music moves into a very catchy, melodic section with piano, electric bass, and jazzy drums laying another steady foundation over which the At 5:46, the lone piano seems to be beginning a return us to the muffin man melody?but no! another pretty melodic variation picks up and plays on until the final twenty seconds when a single microphone is used to pick up a man and his ukelele playing and singing out the "muffin man" nursery rhyme before saying "bye bye, everyone" in a condescending as-if-to-children voice. Some great sections to this humorous song. (8/10)

4. "Lost in a Photograph" (4:21) opens with a slow jazz big band foundations, double bass and flute gently standing out the most. At 1:10 a shift brings forth a "chorus" melody from the horn section before a sax takes on the lead duties over the original opening foundation. An eminently enjoyable little dirge that even takes on some nice STEELY DAN hues and in the third and fourth minutes. No complaints here! (As a matter of fact, I would not mind at all if this one went on longer!) (9/10)

5. "Blind Eye" (4:57) is the first song on the album that, to my ears, really sounds like an avant/RIO/Canterbury song. The initial rhythm and sounds established are familiar to me in a kind of BRUFORD/YUGEN way. The guitar soloing that begins in the second half of the second minute is quite angular and discordant. The section that begins at 2:15 is pure avant/RIO in a kind of UZED/PRESENT way. The ensuing section uses some very Middle Eastern or klezmer-type melodic sounds and structures?which is then varied and embellished over for the fourth and first half of the fifth minutes before fading away to leave an electric piano to delicately play out the final 40 seconds. An interesting song but not my favorite. (8/10)

6. "Shwang Time" (4:58) opens with a kind of Pink Panther-meets-James Brown kind of feel as double bass and snare drum play with and off of each other. At 0:49 the rest of the little big band joins in with multiple melodies and being represented simultaneously but woven together in a fun, 1960s kind of way. At 1:55 there is a shift into a more insistent, ascendant bass and chordal progression giving the song a kind of YES-like feel! A tom-only drum section allows for some different horn interplay?eventually morphing into what sounds and feels like a 1920s jazz dance piece (with a film-noire detective theme playing within.) Odd but fun song! (9/10)

7. "Rovian Cue" (4:10) obviously refers to Karl Rove's cue ball shaped head. Regardless of the meaning of the title, the song has a kind of slap-happy, fun feel like one of Sweden's DUNGEN's happy songs or something from Sicily's current Canterbury revivalists, HOMUNCULUS RES. The piano play in the final minute feels so much like that of VINCE GUARALDI (jazz pianist most famous for the original Charlie Brown television specials' soundtracks). Next to the album's opener, this is my favorite song on the album. (10/10)

A late comer to the 2015 catalogue of albums, this is one that is well worth everyone's listen and patience?it'll grow on you in a very pleasant way!

Thanks to raff for the artist addition.

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