CHOICE CUT – Manik ‘Armies of the Night’


Manik / Armies of the Night

CD / Digital

Ovum / Released May 23rd 2011

Starting things off with a sample from Walter Hill’s 1970s gang film The Warriors is a sure-fire way to get anyone born more than 20 years ago interested. Likewise, to then step in with a classic hip-hop break, albeit given a new school, Stone’s Throw style reading, when we know this album is on Josh Wink’s usually quite clubby Ovum imprint is going to turn a few heads.

Luckily what follows on New Yorker Manik’s debut album doesn’t let the side down, as once you’ve heard it there’s little chance this often surprising, consistently well made LP will be far from the front of your mind. Stylistically it’s got one foot in the broken house and jazzy techno of Manik’s up and coming homeland comrades, such as Soul Clap or Lee Curtiss, making for a very modern beast. But then, like the B-movie cover artwork, this is a collection of music that also unashamedly glances backwards.

Take the plink-plonk percussion of Pipedreams- The Lost Mixtape. More of a skit than anything else, it’s really just warm Casio tones, downtempo beats and voicemail messages from collaborators and associates. Shout outs are nothing new, or specific to any genre, but it’s worth mentioning that comparable vibes can be found in the heyday of West Coast gangster rap, which seems unusual, but proves differentiation is the spice of any good long-player. Meaning Don’t Stop, Don’t Run, the marriage of tribal beats and Hitchcockian string refrains that follows, comes as a welcome adrenaline shot, taking us right back up the BPM count.

This hailing from a camp run by Mr Higher State of Consciousness acid was never not going to be on the menu, especially given the breadth of canons we’ve already touched upon. So when the aptly titled Ruckus 8oh8 drops there’s little surprise. Cue snares, distant brass and plenty of 303 squelches, making for a worthy addition to a genre that refuses to be beaten. “Fuck You” we’re then told as yet more Crenshaw Boulevard shaking beats drop, this time complete with a hi-pitched tone and piano stabs, as Haterville begins.

And it’s not all serious inter-referencing either. Delorean Soho is a dreamy, harmonious meld of keyboards, tom drums and classic dubbed vocals. A chart-friendly piece, though given radio’s narrow-minded attitude there will be little support on mainstream stations, despite the fact this is a far more accurate, not to mention enjoyable parody of 1980s synthdom than many of them peddle. As is This Way Home, a closing tune that’s not a million miles from Sisters With Voices’ Love Will Be Right Here, though please don’t let that put you off, we assure you Manik’s first foray into the extended format is nothing short of genius.

Manik / Phonica Records / Chemical Records