The history of Manes is such that it could fill a whole review. Suffice to say that this band from Trondheim in Norway has been around on and off since 1993, since when it has developed from black metal roots to incorporate experimental, electronic and jazz elements. All of these styles are here on “Teeth, Toes and Other Trinkets”, which is a collection of rarities from the band. With links to Atrox, I expected an oddball outlook and was not disappointed.
The “lo-fi” quality, especially on the live second track “Ende”, does not do justice to the band’s creativity, but there’s enough here to stimulate the listener with a sense of the disturbing and unusual. A feature is the mechanically calm beat and steady songs, which at times make this work chilling and unnerving. Although it’s a compilation, it’s not disjointed. Electro elements are used unashamedly. I liked “Ease Yourself Back (Into Consciousness)”. It reminded me a little of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The sound effects suggest that the whole world’s going mad. The techno-rock beat is typically hypnotic. “The Cure All (Remix)” follows on naturally. It too is hypnotic. Things don’t feel quite right. It is haunting. The vocals are playful. Surely they don’t mean harm? Careful, Manes are going to get you. It’s bizarre.
“One More Room” extends the repertoire a little with its stretched out instrumentals, smooth drums and emotion-ridden vocals. It’s soft yet disturbing, and leads on to a languid continuation in the form of “Nobody Wants the Truth”. “Tzolv” is completely different. Its dark electro waves give the impression of dripping water. Dark trip-hop ambiance conveys a moody, melancholic atmosphere not unlike Netra. “Transmigrant” then comprises a multitude of ambient forms. Irregular and distorted patterns pierce the very hypnotic soft beat. It’s like an exercise in drifting in and out of consciousness. There’s a hint here of the zany world of David Bowie. In turn I heard cosmic beats, simple patterns, lush blends and an insistent pace. Somewhere in there was what seemed like an Eastern European mix. “Those people ate the evidence, so there wasn’t any evidence”, proclaims the narrator on “Nodamnbrakes”. The shuffling beat is there again. Strange noises continue disturbingly in the background. The cosmic sounds amount to hypnotic chaos. After the languid and almost monotone “Diving With Your Hands Bound”, eccentricity returns as “Deeprooted (8-bit)” launches into video game music. Rat-a-tat-tat goes the drum. Up and down, up and down it goes like a puppet on a string. It just ends like there’s no point.
Much of “Teeth, Toes and Other Trinkets” is steady and even sleepy but so too is it full of curiosity and eccentricity. By its nature, there’s little or no continuity but there’s no denying its interest value.
(7/10 Andrew Doherty)