19.04.2010, Words by Charlie Jones


When asked three reasons why he should be listened to, Tom Marhsall, aka Dam Mantle told TLOBF

“It might make you cry

It might make you dance erratically

It might make you happy

I hope all of the above at the same time with your eyes closed.”

All of the above is true of his EP, ‘Grey’, released two weeks ago.

Mantle’s floating “poetry” of melodies weave together Dubstep, Bass and erratic beats, straddling the gap between offerings from the likes of Gold Panda and Four Tet. Marshall prides himself on mixing Lo-Fi and Electronic music, meeting both dub and dance somewhere in the middle.

A Statue That Is Perpetually Unveiled is heavily reminiscent of some of Aphex Twin’s more  uplifting sonic explorations, with its erratic beats charming into traceable rhythms only to fall out of time again.  The track mimics much of Four Tet’s ‘Rounds’ in a lot of ways, and is similar in the concept by introducing electronic music in a slightly bolder, poppier format. Even the child-like quality of My Angel Rocks Back and Forth is replicated here, except with a child’s voice instead of toy noises.  The sound of A Statue… is the opposite of the title track Grey: here the music has a sunny quality. Its feeling is refreshing.

Rebong scales harpsicle melodies and is similar in tempo to much of Pole’s 2003 album.  It sustains some solid dub beats without getting too bogged down or waylaid, and Marshall mixes his genres with the typical floating confusion of melody over this core, painting a dream-like landscape from the ground upwards.

‘Grey’s dark synth beats wobble sideways across the track and this melodic expansion from the Glasgweigan beaut is grey in its nostalgia and reflective quality.  It is also reminiscent of Zoot Woman’s Grey Day in concept, but has a much less traditional format, exploring rhythm by flipping beats around and returning to some consistent pattern when it is least expected.  Slappy hand claps abound, helping to gel it together so the track is not lost like some of the extreme sounds found in IDM.

The final track of the EP, Yoghourt, is definitely one of the strongest Dam Mantle has offered. The female vocals mixed into the track mimic Lou Rhodes’ low enticing tones and though the rhythms imitate typical a Venetian Snares track, they are delivered in melody as opposed to pure beats and breaks.

Dam Mantle has provided an altogether a cohesive collection: Marshall proves that combining genres can be a process which doesn’t get too messy and pretentious. The music here still sounds like one unit without falling apart into too many disparate directions.  As some electronic artists have attempted this and failed miserably, we should take our hats off to the Mantle, and say well done.


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