RX Bandits

Mandala

Written by: PP on 07/11/2009 21:22:25

Three years ago, RX Bandits released one of the best progressive ska albums of all time, "...And The Battle Begun". It is the sort of album where every member, every instrument (including vocals) just clicks together in perfection, revealing new, intricate layers of detail even after dozens and dozens of listens. It's an album, wait scratch that, a piece of art that I'm still spinning on a regular basis just to stand in awe-inspiration over how intelligently it has been put together, how delicate passages intertwine with powerful ones in a perfect manner...in short, because it's a fucking masterpiece. But lets talk about their new album "Mandala" instead, which is a huge disappointment in comparison, and here's why.

First off, the band has evolved yet again. Trombone, saxophone and percussion have all been removed completely, which gives the complex guitar arrangements more space, leading into extended periods of soloing and complicated riffs that in places recall a less Latino version of The Mars Volta. The change is definitely for the worse, because where the removed instruments added depth and reference points to the prog ska guitar wizardry, the songs are now riddled with lengthy passages where the band sounds like they're just jamming, which sounds pointless. "Hope" is a perfect example, it has so much useless instrumental wankery before the band kicks up the pace a notch around 3 minutes in, and then we're back into the heavenly stuff we heard on Battle. But even here, you can't help but miss the interplay between the guitar and the saxophone/trombone in just the rightplaces.

As a result, I'm having serious trouble getting past the midway point of this album, because I just can't be fucked to listen to songs which are there just to demonstrate the guitar ability of Embree/Choi combo - I mean listen to "Mientras La Veo Sonar" for instance. It's incredibly hard for me to grasp that a band able to put out such an amazing record ends up recording mediocre compositions like these, hence the extended delay to this review. One of the biggest disappointments of recent memory, that's for sure.

5

Download: Hope Is A Butterfly No Net Its Captor
For the fans of: The Mars Volta, Catch 22
Listen: Myspace

Release date 21.07.2009
Sargent House

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