Temple by Mansur

Release date: July 10, 2020
Label: Denovali

There’s an awful lot to unpack from Mansur’s debut EP, Temple. This is probably unsurprising given the journey undertaken by Jason Köhnen through his previous projects The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation and, more recently, the excellent Thing With Five Eyes. Mansur sees this unique musical wandering bear further fruit with this taster for their upcoming full-length Karma LP due later this year and as introductions go, it’s quite a striking one. 

Those familiar with previous endeavours will feel quite at home with Köhnen’s eclectic instrumentation choices, rhythms and structures. Alongside bandmembers Dimitry El-Demerdashi and Gadjo Dilo Vendigo on Oud and Duduk respectively, and this heady mixture of a vast, globe-spanning collection of instruments and percussion plus electronic treatments and beats is given further flight by the dreamlike vocals of Martina Hórvath.

 

The sum total of all this talent is as expansive and beautiful as it is deep and meditative. It’s a hard thing to soundbite to be sure, so I’m just going to add my clumsy very first impression and hint that if Massive Attack decided to reimagine Om’s Advaitic Songs with a limitless orchestra budget and a cheerful disregard for the rules, then you might find yourself in a similar headspace as Temple before realising that was only the start of the strange and beautiful flower unfolding in your head. I love first impressions.

Across the five tracks here, the listener is presented with something akin to a vast interlocking puzzle; myriad layers of sound and music crafted to be able to sit gently in the background or suddenly and carefully pulled to the fore with a surprising ease, creating a sense of distance and scale that makes Temple such a strange joy to experience time and again. Multiple listens bear different fruit – this is not the sort of thing to be only experienced while any one particular mood as that would be to miss out on something you missed whilst in a different frame of mind. 

The opening title track is as good an introduction to something new as there could ever be. Strings from all around the world combine for experience that pulls its audience gently out of their comfort zone and into this whole new unified world of texture and music that fits together so elegantly, the slightest out-of-kilter layer could bring the whole thing crashing down. This track emboldens the rest of the EP, ‘Disciples’ in particular deftly combining East, West and Middle in a heady procession of the electronic and the orchestral, calm and urgency that goes beyond the merely cinematic. 

Temple is something of an exciting prospect. I look forward wholeheartedly to hearing more from this eclectic collective and it will feel like a long wait indeed to see where and how I will be transported next.

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