Donor Lens - Desire Path
May 6, 2022
A swirl of noises begins MANAPOOL’s FLOOR BREAKER. Some sort of pure free-flowing sound suddenly reverses, jerking backwards into a higher pitch. A heavily reverberating note cascades into the track suddenly as the amorphous sample writhes about. Choral voices begin to chime in as MANAPOOL wastes no time diving straight into an emotive and epic euphoria. The engaging contrast that permeates the album already reveals itself. An intense rave synth rises and falls in front of this almost religious background. This juxtaposed style is refined even further as a clattering breakcore sample judders into life. The sample blasts the track into hyper speed, pausing once or twice to allow the majesty of the choirs to bleed through. The influence of Japanese video games such as Final Fantasy is clear, if not just from the title ADVENT CHILDREN, but from the aesthetic that is created. A hypermodern sound, tinged with a sense mythical importance and significance.
TRIPPLEGUNNER carries on the heavier side of things with a snarling bassline. Not long after, it is bolstered by rapid drum and bass percussion and a heavy thudding bass drum. A voice ghosts from one side of the stereo field to the other, at some points sounding like its crying for help, at others sounding like it is laughing at our discomfort as MANAPOOL hits us with both barrels. Glittering shards of glass spray into the air as the drum slams down onto the decimated floor of the mix. Everything buzzes and fizzles with a searing energy. Towards the end, more melodic samples begin to try and push themselves to the forefront before the track shuts off completely.
MMX fades in with a heavy austere atmosphere before a commanding voice interrupts. An impact sends the track spiralling into a strange, eerie piano sequence, peppered with incredible voice samples. It sounds like a voice talking as one particular part of the phrase repeats in time with the pulsing beat. As MANAPOOL lets the sample play out for a little bit longer at the start of each beat, the more melodic part of it evaporates into a glittery vapour. Just as we are finding our feet with this skeletal style, a massively energetic drum loop bursts in, pulling the track more towards a playful hyperactive dance track. The eerie piano seeps back in and the two warring sides continue to vie for prominence.
THE GREAT CRYSTAL brings a similarly eerie, morose melody to the fore. High-pitched synth notes are suddenly tapered heavily by a side chain as a slow but confident beat begins. And then, like our pixellated avatar has become trapped in the corner of a dungeon, abrupt tonal impacts interrupt the piano sequence momentarily. A flurry of video game sound effects follow, creating a detached, hybridised rhythm. MANAPOOL’s loose percussion gives off an unkempt energy, as if its power is ungovernable. As the heavy breakbeat sample explodes into being, something sets it just a little bit off kilter. It is as if our 2D avatar has suddenly shot into a wormhole, fighting for their life on that little backlit screen.
HAUSU leads with this infectious hook. A dark and echoing synth line that trickles down the wall of the track at an uneven pace. MANAPOOL adds another speedy drum sample to that, also actioning these massive choral samples. For mere split seconds at a time, the mix is hit with these huge, cataclysmic impacts. The drum sample reintegrates, sounding fuller and a little more commanding. The artist toys with us, shifting out attention every few bars as this brilliantly bright melodic hit begins to assert itself in the mix. Every time it hits, it covers everything in this beautiful golden light. This fascinating dynamic building in the tracks so far feels its as much to do with this mesh of different styles as it does to do with the epic and nostalgic sound palette MANAPOOL is showcasing.
STRIKER starts with an unrecognisable reversed sample, playing out into a fairly large, echoed space. Before long the artist has swept up a snippet of this sample and sent it thundering toward the listener atop of a rattling drum sample. Here MANAPOOL rinses everything from what seems to be around 6 seconds of sound, repackaging it to throw back at the thundering jungle beats. The transitions are handled by these slick drops in sound. The focal sample that appears toward the end is surprisingly feel good, bringing a positive vibe toward the end of the track.
CHAMELEON SCYTHE begins with this beautifully warm synth pad, lighting a room that seems to be beset with a rhythmic leak of water. This dazed atmosphere is shattered as another rattling breakbeat sample enters. A vocal sample joins alongside it, integrating a fairly contrasting sound into the mix. This conflict between junglist breaks and eerily ambient pads and plucked sound continues to rule the narrative of the track. Whilst this is taking place, MANAPOOL takes the opportunity to drag this heavy bassline into focus, following the lead of the drum sample. That warm feeling from the very beginning recedes almost in fear of the fiery quality of the rhythmic side of the track.
CRYSTAL CHRONICLE starts with off-kilter reverberating samples bandying about a large space. Another explorative melody shines forth from starlight synth sounds before an incredibly rapid drumbeat slams into the melody rhythm, charging it with an inhumane amount of energy. The three aspects of the track trade blows for a bit, vying for the focal point of the mix. MANAPOOL in this track and the last few, displays this wonderful penchant for engaging melodies. They don’t sway too much into emotion, but are vibrant and do inject feeling into the song. Around halfway we hear a voice fire off words with disdain and then again with rage and anger. The melodies turn more minor, more resonant synths begin to bubble up from the background ether. The drum track continues to rattle along, this incessant speed and power contrasting with this frail and anxious melody.
IN THE CITY begins as icy notes spread toward the listener, each plosive coming to rest like snowflakes on a frozen body of water. More disembodied voices appear as MANAPOOL weaponises fragmented familiarity embodied by the human voice. It has become a frequent characteristic in FLOOR BREAKER. Rattling DnB drums give the strange vocal samples a sturdy base from which to jump out at the listener. The artist simultaneously keeping them on beat, whilst letting them swirl around the space of the track, creating a powerful disorientating energy. All of a sudden the sample changes. From unintelligible words to the female vocalist crooning ‘in the city’, MANAPOOL hammers it repeatedly into the song as the drumbeat catches up with the change. The track is revitalised with a more positive, party-ish energy. The original sample begins again, but that switch up definitely has a lasting effect on the feeling of the track. A strange duality between intimidating sounds and a celebratory catharsis make the track one of the most engaging on the project.
JULYS DESTRUCTION’s accordion introduction is decimated by a heavy-handed synth line tripping up and down in pitch. A voice screams with a strange, sick energy and welcomes into the throng of the track as throbbing bass meets with speedy percussion. A shouting voice brings a huge bass in, every kick drum lifting the sludge of low sound momentarily before it drops down again, sounding like it weighs 1000 tonnes. The penultimate venture could certainly be labelled the most chaotic on FLOOR BREAKER. MANAPOOL lashes us with omnipotent bass alongside incendiary percussion and detuned synths.
We end on EMBRACE SIN, a collaborative track with Arena Girlfriend. A synth bubbles up toward the surface, joined by a jungle percussive loop weaving in and out of it as it rises past the topmost level of obscuring water. From there the two artists work together to present a commanding bassline, picking moments to inject the solid, sturdy body of low-end sound wisely. We hear that familiar sound of a shouting voice stretched beyond comprehension, and just as it all builds up we crash through the wall of sound into a new area. Gentle piano keys twinkle, an instant vision of cherry blossom and blue skies invades the listeners mind. A moment of tranquility that is gradually picked apart and dissected by the artists, before they sweep the leg of the listener. The bass hits heavier, right in the centre, the higher frequency percussion more precise and determined. Everything breaks apart again, and those same piano keys cushion our exit from FLOOR BREAKER.
MANAPOOL’s album draws together sounds and styles from electronic genres that aren’t too similar. This is what gives FLOOR BREAKER its fractured, almost malfunctioning sound at some points. The artist sits in the middle of a dark space, smashing different parts together to form a whole. With the ability to create an effective atmosphere within split seconds, and with a love of that frantic, emotive energy that one can only get from video games, MANAPOOL packs a metallic punch that concludes on an incredible collaborative song.