Sh'mantra - "Forumula Orange"
(self-released 2001, SCD02)
From Aural Innovations #17 (September 2001)
This Sydney-based band have drawn comparisons to the likes of Pink Floyd and King Crimson, but those classifications do nothing to convey the immense depth and diversity on this double-CD release. Their music will wash over you with a subtle resonance, not a forceful grab for attention. Most of the tracks are driven with a broad range of guitar voicings accompanied by drums and occasionally embellished with synths and vocals. The guitar strikes me as the centerpiece in all its various incarnations. At times you'll get a disturbing and melodic tapestry of celestial notes. Then the band will hit you with percussive punches of heavy distortion guitar. At other times they break out into pure progressive rock or Hawkwind's slower-style jams. I wouldn't call this a heavily layered style of music. Even though the band plays many instruments in various styles, they mostly focus on exploring one or two lines of melody at a time. Sometimes they will fill out the landscape with an entire section reminiscent of Current My description may indicate a primarily background style of music, but this is not the case. I am amazed how consistently captivating the results are amidst all of their various styles. Whether they play in an experimental mode for a few minutes or explore patches of ambient or progressive rock, they do it in their own unique style, always finding something fresh with every twist. Music in this style almost always loses my attention at a certain point, but this release did not force my mind to wander even once. That's quite an accomplishment for a strikingly ambitious musical venture that stretches out over 106 minutes on two CDs. I think this release has an almost universal appeal. Fans of space rock, ambient, traditional rock, and various styles of metal will find it to be one of the best purchases they will make for some time. Quality and diversity like this do not come along very often.
For more information you can visit the Sh'mantra web site at: http://www.users.bigpond.com/dovoxe.
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Reviewed by Anish Bhatia