(2020 - New House Music - USA)
The most concentrated, partly intense, equally playful, and perfectly laid out recording from Dave Newhouse's Manna/Mirage project, this being announced as the 3rd and final release of said ensemble (which by the way always rotates and adjusts to what is needed at the time of Mr Newhouse's blueprint), it is to be cherished. Nothing is less than amazing with a sweet ambrosia of experimental, Canterbury worship, tactile jazz fusion, hypodermic flurries of out music, and all the blessed classic invention nods that one could hope for.
The album contains a very meticulous set of compositions including performances by Guy Segers - bass (Univers Zero, Uneven Eleven, Eclectic Maybe Band and a library's worth of others), Sean Rickman - drums (Quite Sane, Diratz, Steve Coleman), Mark Stanley - guitar (The Muffins, Diratz, Chainsaw Jazz, Spy Machines), Jerry King - bass and brass (Moon Men, Cloud Over Jupiter), Bret Hart - guitar (Moon Men, solo), William Jungwirth - drums (Moon Men), Forrest Fang - violin (electronic and ambient solo artist), Rich O’Meara - mallets (Colla Parte, Silent Orchestra, Katarzyna Mycka and a huge collection of more guest spots) , Nick Prol - vocals (The Proletarians), Greg Segal - percussion (Diratz, former Manna/Mirage recordings), and George Newhouse - drums (Manna/Mirage, Diratz, 3 Quarter View). The cover art is by the Italian painter Serge Serghejev (RIP). Dave befriended Serge on Facebook in the last months that he was alive. Easy to see why the album is dedicated to him. Like the former recordings, this is also limited to 300 physical compact disc copies. At 38:21 for 7 songs it might be short in duration, however the quality of the music removes any thought of time.
With new twists thrown in, such as a hybrid eastern/Scottish bagpipe/Irish accordion ditty, the listener gets a huge platter of 'anything can happen' at any moment delight. Each time I listened I could not believe how great this was (and is). From Stravinsky-like rhythms to Soft Machine pathways, the speakers (if you still listen on large stereo like I do) will produce vivid rock in opposition gemstones that not even the biggest music grouch could ignore. Newhouse uses his multi-instrumentation to create a constantly roving paradise of unbelievable landscape. One example of the varied concoctions is 'Island of Dr Noreau', that brings up beautiful memories of the absolute masterpiece of the 2nd ZNR album ('Traite De Mecanique Populaire' - 1978). 'Tunnels and Domes' kicks into an abyss of convulsive fusion, quickly followed by a quirky bubbly wind soaked fanfare that only a corpse could frown at.
I keep thinking how many people will beg or demand Newhouse to make a 4th release of Manna/Mirage. Raising my hand. The last song is the sole track with vocals, by the superb Nick Prol titled 'Fly Away', which is out of this world and a type song to make you jump to your feet, clapping your hands for an encore. I am positive a call for a duo album of Newhouse and Prol will be asked for. Once again raising my hand high. That would be one of the biggest anticipations of the true creative music world EVER. As for 'Face', this is hands down a crowning achievement. It makes my TOP CHOICES of 2020 list without hesitation. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
LAST MINUTE UPDATE: I was just informed by Dave Newhouse that he decided to make a 4th release after all, and in fact, (his words follow) "I’m about 1/3rd of the way through the next one. Manna/Mirage 4 is currently being called “Man Out Of Time”. No one knows about this yet, but you can mention it I’d you like." So HOOOOORAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! Something to look forward to for sure!
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 7 - 11 - 2020