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MANGABROS / Blog

New album 'Soulcoalblack' imminent

Hello everyone. We are proud to announce our LIMITED EDITION hand-crafted CD is on the near horizon. After 15 years in dice-enforced exile, 'Soulcoalblack' reveals itself as a sprawling double-length album (73:37 mins in total) on a single raven-black vinyl-effect disc. The strictly limited run of 100 comes ribboned in crime-scene tape, with a Bandcamp-only printable 16-page lyric booklet, a burning blue 'psycho-trucker kiss' (with secret stash code for another half hour of audio detritus) and exclusive monochrome 'soulcoalblack' (or 'slowburnblue') plectrum (while stocks last). Pre-orders get both! Includes digital pre-order of Soulcoalblack. You get the 3 singles from the album now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it's released (December 8). https://mangabros.bandcamp.com/album/soulcoalblack-5

The 'Sick' Narrative World of the Mangabros

It's almost a joke how dark and twisted the lyrics of the mangabros are perceived. Apparent no subject is off-bounds. Unwritable material, like unfilmable books, is often a challenge and are spun like yarn - indeed like yarns- with a prolific intensity. But the songs are not sick, or cruel, or dispassionate. They come from a positive place of light, and hope, and humanity. Here, we have an endless parade of colourful tales of often despicable characters and situations.

Recalling the subject matter now, in the cold stark light of day, makes me wince. But i keep reminding myself of the bias, the slant, the 'good light'. I am male, I am white, I am straight, I am human. Often, I am ashamed of being all of the above. Often my songs reflect this disgust for humankind's lack of humanity and its willingness to draw up divisions and factions. I remain humanely agnostic. And vegetarian

John Lennon got it half-right. But I believe bigots are 'the niggers of the world'.

So looking at our songbook from this vantage point, sifting out the tongue-in-cheek defiant stuff, you'll find wonky, warped sensibilty that certainly isn't amoral, or sicko, or nasty, or didactic. But deeply moral. Or MC (morally correct).

Deep breath though - without annotation, without safety nets - we trawl through such dark narratives as gay nazi activists dying of aids, predatory homophobes and paedophiles, castrati sex-slaves, sexually-abused transexuals, vivisection, unflinching glimpses from laboratories and abattoirs.

Sing along, boys and girls...

The Polarization of Musical Taste

Having just tested a couple of our songs for radio with 'Crowd Review' (similar to Hollywood focus group test screenings), been thinking about musical taste. Mangabros are an acquired taste, that's for sure. Crowd Review threw up some interesting and diverse adjectives and nouns to describe our music: 'creepy'. 'disturbing', 'interesting', 'horror', 'ground-breaking', 'nasty', 'weird', 'engaging', 'confusing', 'noise'...

One reviewer wrote: “THIS SONG SOUNDS VERY DISTURBING AND CREEPY. I do not like any part of this. I don't even know what category to put this under. It should not be recorded because I think it would scare a lot of people..."

Then again, the following reviewer said: " Oh my god!!! one of the best songs made ever and that's out of anyone known or not. This song is the jam. I could listen to this all day if I could but I sadly can't. but whatever artist made this song should definitely make a million dollars off of this song. You can really tell that he wrote from the heart and not the mind."

"would be really good if on acid..."

" I do not like this song at all. It sounds like something out of a horror movie. A bad horror movie at that..."

"Confusing. The guitar sounds really distorted and creepy. Plain freakin weird. Just sounds like noise, static, and a guy crying while masturbating." :)

" the feel of the song is very eerie and intriguing. it really makes you curios. the song has very disturbing vocals but in collaboration with the beat just creates a really interesting texture. the instrumentation is very distinct and different. exotic."

"the vocals in the opening were very strange. the music was okay. the screech of the guitar was nice touch I didn't expect to hear. This song lacks a genre and I don't feel there is even an audience for this song, in my opinion this song sounds like a bunch of noise. This should not be allowed to be called music at all."

"This is a creative track. The tune is really marvelously straightforward but I think darker appeal could easily befit its refined atmosphere. The total immersion of this track was good. It had a sort of textural design. The admirable variety of the tone is rather intricate; it delivers constantly."

"Wow, just wow. Is this supposed to be music? I am pretty sure there is something wrong with my headphones or computer. Please good sir, your vocals and this song is in need of being put out of its misery. I mean no disrespect to your music abilities. The musical side of the song is interesting and engaging, however, I would not recommend this track to my friends."

"This track is breaking new ground. It is artistic, imaginative and fascinates the listener with its unusual musical style. This one is new wave meets vanguard and the energy and magnetism of this song is enough to make it buzz-worthy..."

"This is an unpleasant cacophony. Grinding, hoarse vocals on a shrieking background of horrible sounds with no real beat. I can't even classify how bad this is but it's truly agonizing to listen to, I'm surprised my earphones didn't break. This should never be exposed to the general populace."

Another likened us to the 'trench-coat mafia at Columbine' :/

Such polarity. Such diverse critique. All about the same song. Is it THAT bad? Is it THAT good? Should the average X-factor-obsessed punter be given free rein (and indeed reign) on something a little different, off-kilter, off the radar, challenging common consensus? A resounding HELL YEAH, just don't hang too much faith in the response. Lowest Common Denominator music is bland, anaemic, homogenized. It's good to be loved, but good to be hated too.

On Writing

Even after a (working) lifetime hammering away at the coal face of song, the actual mechanics of how those things arrive and make themselves manifest still remain somewhat mysterious to me. There’s never an exact science to it, never a “normal” process. It’s important to allow the song to make itself known rather than force it. To a large extent that involves tricking myself into a state of readiness-to-receive.

It’s comparatively simple to find that state while – nominally – concentrating on the recording process. An immersion in sound world means that the hidden lines of vocal/lyrical sense can make themselves available in a surreptitious manner. I’ve often drawn the analogy between sculpting and songwriting and as one hacks away at the sonic material – by editing or manipulation – the inner meaning of the thing shows up in some x-ray form. At this point it’s possible to know (approximately) what it’s “about” and then get those lyrics and that top line done.

I honestly mean to say that the songs reveal themselves to me. I don’t drive them along, I don’t start out with a specific agenda or intention, musical or lyrical. Whether I’m working with a chord sequence, a slab of noise or a riff I go forward, trusting that eventually the form will unlock the song within. Naturally, this kind of approach leads to a certain dangerous frisson when the recording process is reaching an end. I’ve enjoyed that sense of finally wrapping things up at the last moment.

PASSION-PLAY
PASSION-PLAY  (over 1 year ago)

Songwriting is a mysterious art - when the muse comes you just go with it and it flows and the song feels like it writes itself. The worst thing to do is to force it like you say - for if you do you just get some cliché ridden nonsense that you never feel connected with because it came from your head and not your core.
Long may songwriting be a product of your heart and your instincts rather than your intellect because once you figure out how to write a song then formula kicks in and it's time to forget it and go home. I think you know this and have seen you, like stepping slowly through a minefield, as you make sure you never fall for the dangerous trap of over thinking your songwriting.
Recording is a whole different beast though.. This is your achiles heel for as you finish a recording you immediately work out a better way of doing the song when really you should just commit to the next project and leave your songs, like children, to go out into the world and just be themselves.. There have been signs of a recent move to getting on and putting your work out there - this is a very welcome sign and I think the world is blessed that the Mangabros project is finally releasing these great songs..

The Long Playing Extended Play

been mulling this over recently. what makes a long playing record? when does an ep become an lp? what is the dividing line? is it merely a time issue? is it quantity of songs? i don't think so. maybe it's the aura of the record. 'slowburnblue' i still maintain is an eepee not an album, although at nearly 70 minutes duration, it is certainly longer than most 'classic' vinyl album releases (james blake's mercury prize winning album is only 47 minutes, 'overgrown' it ain't). maybe duplication of tracks, remixes, different versions and the like, constitute the eepee vibe. inclusions of fragments, tone pieces, etc. am i right?

Blogger's Block

It did cross my mind to put in some effort and write something today for this blog but then I actually thought about it...

You see, my dam broke two days ago. The dark waters of self-doubt came crashing through the fields where I usually gather my ideas and then quickly swamped my intention of blogging every day and slowly building a readership. The tide finally ran up against my stubborn intention to carry on and you can still see the high water mark and some cracking where my belief is giving way.

Blogging is a miserable business when you get down to it. It’s like filling an infinitely empty hole for which you’re never thanked. I know I probably do it all wrong. I write too much, spend too much time on music. I should make this closer to Twitter. Writing the first things that come to mind…

I need to brush my teeth. That cloud looks like Russell Mael from Sparks. Isn’t ‘Thesaurus’ a strange word? Why do Maplin keep sending me catalogues? I still don’t know how those slugs are getting into the kitchen. Hmm… It might rain later. Chocolate, I think. The large jar of Branston pickle beckons…