Dryvetyme Onlyne reviews ‘Whispers’
The Manichean’s ‘Whispers’ EP
Much like The Manichean’s celebrated live shows in its hometown of Houston, TX, the Whispers EP jumps right into your face from the very beginning. “The Manichean” is a 83-second track that introduces the band’s ramshackle, gypsy-folk-on-mescaline aesthetic as violins, horns, postcore drumming, vigorous guitar strumming, and the woosh of melodramatic vocals fill the air. From there, the atmosphere dips down to a slightly creepy slow burn with “The Unfortunate Circumstances Surrounding Zoe” – theatrical spoken word sets the stage as arty indie-folk builds from ghost story territory into a mid-tempo, dance-around-the-campfire jam. The youthful octet hits its real stride with “Lacerus,” a whip-smart three-minute track that calls to mind mewithoutYou, especially in how the mood and tenor of the song achingly rises and rises to a climax it never quite achieves.
It’s only when “The Baptism (Of Water, Of Desire, And Of Blood)” kicks in do we hear where the prior song was headed. This twelve-minute finale ebbs and flows with pain-staking precision (both technical end emotional) between rich elegiac sections and bursts of rapturous energy. If it sounds like I’m describing a religious experience, it’s because the music of The Manichean definitely possesses those qualities in spades, specifically when Cory Sinclair introduces some heady lyricism that smacks of mysticism of the Catholic and old-world pagan varieties. Yet, while I appreciate the ambition inherent to writing a multi-layered paean of this nature, I would rather the band have broken up this track into two or three sections so that the listener might better absorb and interpret where the band is going with the tempo and style shifts.
That being said, I was quite impressed with The Manichean’s ability to harness the passion of its live performances into recorded format. The band becomes a living organism on stage, drawing into itself at times before exploding in a torrent of glorious song, much like a roving band of minstrels conveying the power, weight, and truth of the old stories through music. The Whispers EP definitely whets my appetite for more of what this group might have to offer Houston, TX (and the rest of the world).