We promised that we would feature far more post rock music this year, and one item on my huge list of untouched tasks is to spend a few hours exploring the interweb trying to identify as many slightly less well known Nordic post rock bands for future features. So maybe a review of the new album 'No More Sirens' by Finnish band 'Mantaray' will help point is in direction of some great new music, and result in a surge of Finnish music submissions too - we can only hope.
So 'Mantaray' are a 6 piece band from Jyväskylä in Finland, which is such a beautiful looking city on the Finnish Lakeland in central Finland - I need to find a small musical festival to go to there. They have 2 releases for you to all discover online, firstly a self titled EP released back in 2014, and their debut album 'Atlantic' in 2016, and I had an enjoyable couple of hours this weekend streaming all their releases back to back.
'No More Sirens' is their most polished release to date, dreamy post rock with melancholy vocals, interesting drumbeats that throw you off in a different direction and bursts of expansive guitars - albeit not in a blistering way - this is music to get lost in, rather than blast you into another dimension. Opening track 'Unsaid' offers an inventive drumbeat to start, but I like in particular the way it opens up with guitars some 2 minutes in and combined with drumbeat there is a lovely offbeat post rock feel to the track, which works well with the soft harmonised vocals - a feature throughout. Central to 'Policy' is the vocal melody, more defined and distinct than other tracks, whilst 'No More Sirens' is such a clever track - delicate, ambient sounds that shift like sand, creating images and waves of movement.
The intricacy of the guitar in 'Island' is a real highlight, and I like the way that other instruments are gradually introduced, even if I am waiting for a build in intensity which never quite arrives. And there's no let up in the quality of songs - i like the instrumental post rock sections in 'Closer' along with the harmonies, and 'Follow' maintains a clever level of intensity guitars carry the track towards the end. 'Later' has a lovely melodic line, whilst the album concludes with another highlight - 'All the Seas' really does build up to a big conclusion that I've been waiting for.
'No More Sirens' is an imaginative release, controlled and well written - a shoegazey version of post rock that I really like, and that occasionally reminds me of the masterful 'Oceansize' (whilst in 'Music for a Nurse' rather than 'Part Cardiac' mode). I'm here, of course to give opinions, and I would like to hear bigger contrasts - 'Mantaray' have this wonderful ability to write intimate and quietly intense post rock, and I would love to see that built up to bigger dynamic climaxes too, utilising the full force of the 6 piece band. But maybe that would just make them sound too much like other bands, because 'Mantaray' have a style of their own. and 'No More Sirens' is a well written album that is as absorbing from start to finish. We're delighted to add it to our Nordic Post Rock collection, and will continue our hunt for more of the same...