In his 2011 book Retromania: Pop’s Addiction To Its Own Past, Simon Reynolds wrote about how the way people purchase, consume and listen to music had changed. Back then it was very much the huge iTunes libraries that you could take with you day to day and things like YouTube that were changing the way people consumed music. Now you’ve got new market leaders like Spotify and Amazon Music to throw into the mix.
Having access to almost everything ever recorded means you can listen to a large amount of incredibly diverse music in a way that probably wouldn’t have been possible to your average music fan 30 or 40 years ago. When physical releases were still king, before illegal downloading, you had a certain amount of disposable income to spend on music that you really wanted to hear. That largely meant your record collection would probably focus on a couple of genres you were most interested in. That in turn would influence the sound that people who then decided to start making music would come up with.
Today you can listen to just about anything, anywhere, at any time. Theoretically this will mean that some bands have a huge amount of influences flowing into their sound psyche from across the musical spectrum. This writer believes the impact of that change in the consumption of music is most obvious in some of the bands on the London scene right now, such as Black Midi, Black Country New Road and Squid. These bands combine guitar reverb, rock, classical fusion, free jazz, electronica and many other genres to produce a big, exhilarating sound.
The Mantis Opera fall into that scene and they too have a fairly eclectic sound – largely guitar driven but incorporating other styles and ideas and throwing them into the mix in a loud and exciting way. Indeed, The Mantis Opera have supported bands like Squid, Goat Girl and Black Midi and are regarded as an exciting live act with bags of potential.
Their new EP Broken Glass demonstrates that potential and screams that they are a band eager to be back on the stage in front of a fervent live audience. It’s an EP of jagged guitars, playful synths and twisted electronics, all propelled forwards with an insurgent energy.
7:8 highlights the band’s range and scope as well as anything on the EP. I don’t want to compare them to any of their London contemporaries as it is clear they have a sound and style of their own but as they experiment further you can quite easily imagine jazz licks and other assorted genre sounds being added to the mix, expanding their scope even further. The title track Broken Glass is another great example of The Mantis Opera mixing things up. A nagging guitar riff rides off into glitch radiophonic workshop style electronics before the whole thing bursts into a wall of noise which is crying out for a live venue to explode and expand into.
The Mantis Opera are an exciting band, very much situated in an interesting, energetic London scene which is increasingly generating both critical and commercial success. Broken Glass is a good showcase of what the band is about and hopefully an indication of what’s to come in the future.
The Mantis Opera – Broken Glass EP will be released on 25th March 2021.