Serena Maneesh

Serena Maneesh

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When you put this album on for the first time, you can perhaps understand why some have branded Serena Maneesh as neo-shoegazers. The often tranquil vocals are extremely floaty-sounding, drenched in reverb and buried deep in the mix, very much like those heard on what came to be the Bible of shoegaze -- My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. The bouncy, fill-heavy drumming also resembles that typical of the genre, at times not unlike Loz Colbert. But it should not take the seasoned listener too long to grasp that Serena Maneesh transcend the narrow boundaries of shoegaze. With a leader as musically diverse as Emil Nikolaisen, how could they not? They are not trippy all the time, either; one needn't go further than the fifth track, "Beehiver II," before it gets really heavy. Starting out not unlike Nikolaisen's old punk band, Silver, with great semitone chord changes and distorted vocals, it eventually culminates in a frighteningly demonic, screaming crescendo, almost resembling extreme metal in its aural attack, before ending in a total ramshackle of Stooges-like wah-wah fuzz and pounding drums. Despite its opening track, "Drain Cosmetics," being chosen as single of the week by The Guardian, this is of course not a particularly accessible record. Some tracks are immediate, though, especially the delightful two-minute pop explosion of "Un-Deux." Other tracks, like "Selina's Melodie Fountain" and "Candlelighted," are extremely monotonous, holding the same note for unheard-of amounts of time. These compositions rely on rhythmical dynamics and pure sonic experimentation to produce hypnosis, and are not songs or tunes in the traditional sense. The tune fundamentalists should hereby consider themselves warned, while the more adventurous are in for a real treat. Emil Nikolaisen has never tried to hide his spiritual and religious leanings, and on this album they are more evident than ever. Many of the songs serve as battle arenas where harmonic melodies and dissonant walls of noise clash together furiously, the ever-roaring struggle between good and evil put to a rock record. This is present on virtually every song, but perhaps most evident on the album's last track, the cathartic 12-minute-long "Your Blood in Mine." Starting out all trippy and monotonous, it adds layer upon layer of noise and increases in tempo and intensity before ending with a solitary piano playing a simple, beautifully harmonic melody. The light, it seems, prevails in the end.

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