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Manta Ray

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Biography

Spanish indie rockers Manta Ray pursued a restlessly experimental approach for most of their career, starting out as a bluesy noise-rock band and drifting farther and farther into avant-garde territory. Initially composed of José Luis García (lead vocals, guitar), Nacho Vegas (guitar), Nacho Alvarez (bass), and Isaías Sanz (drums), Manta Ray formed in Gijón, Spain, and debuted in 1994 with the EP Escuezme!, issued on Subterfuge Records. Their self-titled debut full-length arrived in late 1995, with new drummer Juan Luis Ablanedo on board, and earned them comparisons to bluesy, challenging alt-rockers like Come; it also made them darlings of the Spanish indie scene. Their next effort was 1997's Diminuto Cielo, a collaboration with singer Javier Corcobado on Astro Discos; the same year, they recorded a split EP with French art-punkers Diabologum called La Ultima Historia de Seducción. The group's next album on its own was 1998's Pequeñas Puertas Que Se Abren, Pequeñas Puertas Que Se Cierran, which included new drummer Xabel Vegas and keyboardist/percussionist/electronics manipulator Frank Rudow. Come's Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw both made guest appearances, and Manta Ray subsequently embarked on their first international tour as Come's opening act. They also played several European festivals that year, including Benicàssim, where they shared a bill with Yo La Tengo, PJ Harvey, and Sonic Youth. The following year brought two one-off projects: the remix album Manta Ray Vs. Cosmos and the live album Score, which found the band stretching out on themes from movie soundtracks in honor of their hometown's film festival. Nacho Vegas left the group afterward, reducing them to a quartet for 2000's Esperanza, a more electronic-flavored record than their previous work. After a few side projects and collaborations, Manta Ray returned in 2003 with the new album Estratexa, now on the Acuarela label. ~ Steve Huey

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