Te Whanganui-a-Tara trio Mana Mushroom describe their musical style as ‘fungus-fueled, heavy progressive psychedelic jungle sounds’, which seems like an interesting combination. Whilst a fungal fuel source can neither be confirmed nor denied, this eponymous four track EP/album has the rest in spades.
Battle Hill bids a warm welcome with atmospheric swells and distant reverberant drums from Levon Mason (Seaside Sloths) who compiles an enchanting groove, brick by brick, before the three-piece deliver a first taste of the heavy fuzz-laden tones that make this record so compelling.
Callum Worsley’s (Pinealium) guitar and Blain Fitzpatrick’s (Raw Collective) bass compliment each other as they meander in and out of the spotlight, and the track gathers pace towards an epic conclusion that features a first taste of the vocoder wah bass that will prove a recurring theme. Battle Hill rolls into the station after a ride that didn’t once feel like a drag over its 12-minute runtime.
With an opening that feels like a leisurely stroll, Ultraviolet breaks into a run with a pounding rhythm replete with bass flourishes. The song evolves into a pulsing anthem with no wasted space in engineer James Goldsmith‘s mix. This 8-minute long track is a standout and serves as an interesting change of pace with its halting initial act.
Clocking the shortest runtime on the record, Meteorite nonetheless packs a punch with a chaotic ascending chord run and a drop that would have even the most grounded of souls nervously looking to the sky in anticipation of raining molten rock. Some of the biggest tones in the record are found within Chapters, brought into sharp relief courtesy of the mastering work of Will Borza (Hans Zimmer, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Tenacious D, Toto).
This is where the Wellington trio’s overall technical prowess takes centre stage, with a relentless closing section filled with the kinds of time signature changes and progressive delights that will bring a smile to the face of any fan of the epic and the sludgy. Mana Mushroom’s stated aim with this record is to “stimulate listeners’ senses in a way which evokes a sense of wonder about the world and our place in it.” Wonderment achieved.