Saturday, October 10, 2015
Scheduled for release via Permanent Vacation on October 30th, 2k15 is Mano Le Tough's sophomore longplay piece "Trails", the follow up to his widely acclaimed 2013-album debut "Changing Days". Sporting a solid bunch of ten tracks the album leaves the trail commonly described as DeepHouse these days even before it sets a single foot on this kind of territory and carves out a niche of its own within seconds. Imagine masterly crafted synths and strings arranged in a wide angle, cinemascopic manner, accompanied by warm and epic organic basslines and broken, complex beats on a mostly dancefloor-friendly tempo which are catering to all those familiar with Electronica or abstract, UK Bass-reminiscent genres like Future Garage or Post- / WhateverStep that even come into play when the straight 4/4 hits as it does in the killer late night groove monster "Half Closed Night" or the deep swinging "Empty Early Years And The Seed" sporting clumsy, slomo UK Garage beats, huge bass waves and - and this is a low point for sure - syrinxes alongside Mano Le Tough's vocals as does the overly kitschy, beatless Ambient ballad "Energy Flow". And surely both of these tracks would've be better off as instrumental cuts or using, like many others, the vocal bits in terms of being samples, adding additional layers of sound here and there, as Mr. Mannion's fragile and maudlin voice is just a little too much of too much when combined with the super slick, crystalline and melodic approach of the whole album. Tracks like the 'troity highlight "I See Myself In You" do prove that full-on instrumentals seem to be where his creative talent unfolds without restrictions, especially when compared directly to the subsequent Electronica Indie meets Bass Music attempt "Trails" which is straight up awkward whilst the clattering rhythms of "The Space Between" evoke fond memories of the West London Phusion scene plus loads of additional string action - but again it's the vocals that do not work for us at all. Finally the closing tune "Meilen" provides a nice, tamed mixture of metallic, slightly mechanic uptempo Electronica with a dancefloor twist, mildly-tempered early AFX-reminiscing strings alonside Balearic guitars and waves goodbye to an album homogenic, yet full of contrasts that serves both high quality production value as well as uberly kitschy moments and vocals that one should shun away from - although fans might love it anyway. Our verdict: A full instrumental version of "Trails" would've been a better choice for more than one reason and we're guessing that this album will be a controversial one for sure.