Serena Maneesh

No. 2: Abyss in B Minor

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After the release of their 2005 self-titled album, Serena Maneesh spent a couple years on the road before heading back to the studio to record a follow-up. Feeling frustrated by the atmosphere in traditional studios, S-M mastermind Emile Nikolaisen headed underground -- literally, as S-M 2: Abyss in B Minor’s basic tracks were recorded in an underground cave outside of Oslo. After another year of recording all around the world and a painstaking eight days per track of mixing, the album was finally done. All the effort put into making the record really pays off. The sound is pretty awe-inspiring, with huge molten streams of guitars, thundering drums, swirling voices, and all sorts of keyboards, sound effects, and stray noises combining together into a great, layered wall of sound that rivals My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless in terms of sonic construction. And MBV is Serena Maneesh’s main influence; the similarity extends past the overall sound to song structure and the way the vocals are recorded. A song like "Magdelana (Symphony #8)" is an uncanny approximation of the MBV sound but, and this is important, S-M aren’t just hijacking the sound, they are adding to it. Not improving it, but making the sound their own and taking it places MBV didn’t. For example, "Magdalena" exhibits a light, almost jazz-influenced touch; opening epic jam "Ayisha Abyss" is far heavier than the typical shoegaze-inspired band. In between are songs like the massively melancholy "Melody for Jaana" and the fiery "Blow Yr Brains in the Mourning Rain," which show a great deal of emotion, imagination, and craft. And if Nikolaisen’s almost fanatic determination to complete the record would lead you to believe that it might sound labored or too fussy, you’d be wrong. His efforts serve to tame the roiling noise and shape the various elements of sound into songs that deliver a surprising amount of emotional power. Serena Maneesh may never get the same respect or devotion that a band from the first wave of shoegaze would, simply because they are followers, but if they keep making records as inspired and mighty as S-M 2, they may surpass their influences and be put on the same pedestal as MBV.

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