Mantrix are a double-act from Melbourne, Australia who made
their name through their live set, fusing organic and electronic sounds into a
sound thatís more or less Australiaís best-kept musical secret. Thereís a
couple of bloody amazing things about this album.
First, the production quality; secondly the ballsy oldskool
energy running through it; and thirdly, samples that really *should* sound shit
and clichťd actually work very well indeed. The opening track Levels kicks off
with a bread-n-butter bassline before it takes off. Thereís a fat, adorable
midrange riff that keeps you hooked. Thereís cut up high-end vocals swirling in
the background thatíll have you thinking, all misty-eyed, about high-moments in
tranceís history. Free Your Soul sounds so clear itís like the musicís
happening inside of your own head. Again weíre being dragged into the music by
the midrange, and the smattering of new age-y vocals and samples is a goan
delight Ė trust me, it doesnít get cheesy. The central run to this track is
staggering Ė the sounds layer and get excited all by themselves, the percussion
gets tighter and more frantic, and the overall effect is extremely psychedelic.
By which I mean extremely. And by which I also mean psychedelic.
Armageddon features live guitar, all whipped up into a
veritable frenzy. The live sound moulds well into the electronic and while it
gets a tad too heavy for my whiteboy ears, the energy is unmistakeable.
Psycarumba has no less than five guest musicians, performing brazilian
percussion and vocals. The effect here is like dropping acid at Womad and
hearing quality goa ringing in your ears all weekend: I donít think I can name
a psy track thatís got a stronger live-band-feel to it.
Gaia takes a shift to the deeper, edgier side of things and
the sound here reminds me a little of something Cosmosis might come up with
when heís in a bad mood. Universal Reflections is an utter cracker Ė the sound
is simply vast, spreading right out in front of you. A vocoder gives it a sort
of unnerving depth thatís balanced by the earthy percussion going on below.
Itís the kind of track that wonít so much as make a dancefloor ignite: itíll
make a dancefloor spontaneously combust. The low-set midrange drives it along,
keeping everything grounded before escalating it upwards and upwards.
Alpha Beater, however, is the utter ripper here. A barking
303, an incredibly psychedelic set of bleeps and whistles, all underpinned by a
driving bassline. And, seriously, itís as good as The Infinity Project, as good
as Cosmosis, as good as Doof, and it even has a movement and passion that
should get the Posford-devotees glazing over like Easter buns. Rebirth is
another belter Ė it has a deep, fin-de-ciecle feel about it with a whirlwind of
dreamtime percussion, subtly-crafted electronic tickles and more energy than a
Finally, the two parts of Spontaneous Existence give a
thundering close to the album. Starting out chilled (and bloody good chill it
is too), it goes through 4/4, breaks, before picking up the lysergic quotient
All in all Universal is a f*ing amazing artist album.
Psyreviews often bangs on about artist albums lacking direction, flow, or ideas
Ė all three are in bountiful abundance here. There are some dazzling moments,
some real blasts of emotional power, and some ideas and production that border
genius. I simply canít bang on about it enough: utterly brilliant.
Reviewed by Damion courtesy of the Psyreviews website.