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Album Review

Manta Ray is a little bit Velvet Underground, a little bit ambient techno, and a little bit Krautrock, and the band's fourth full-length album sounds like all those elements brought to bear on a Sergio Leone spaghetti Western soundtrack. Or, to make it simpler yet, think of the brooding Estratexa as a sort of Spanish Radiohead in its Kid A phase, but more low-key and less high-strung, and not quite as neurotically vibrant, edgy, and challenging. The album is, nevertheless, full of enticingly atmospheric, lugubrious, claustrophobic, and jittery music, a montage of surly dirges (the haunting electric shower that is "Another Man"), lovely throbbing drones (the title track), and rhythmically cacophonous tone poems (listen to the mesmerizing, pulsing, tribal-infused "Monotonía"), with textures borrowed from Hawaiian music (the heavily reverb-laden "Añada"), heavy metal (the aggressively dirty guitar riffs and pulverizing, overdriven percussion of "Ébola"), and, of course, Latin music. Even further afield, "Ausfahrt" has a beautifully meditative, Native American-like flute melody laid over a mournful theremin. It sounds like ghosts rising out of the desert sand. Occasionally a song will fail to hang together all the way through, is left in limbo, or fails to find its way to a satisfying resolution. In those moments, the album skirts the line between dynamic, enveloping soundscape and less interesting mood piece. Even so, Estratexa is largely the former, a gorgeous canvas of abstract, exploratory avant rock, and it fits in perfectly with Film Guerrero's other releases.


Formed: Gijón, Spain

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

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...
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Estratexa, Manta Ray
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