Man Mantis

On his new EP, Man Mantis demonstrates how a year or two of experimentation across a handful of singles has sharpened his creative output. Compared to the material on his last album (Cities Without Houses), the rhythm palette has been expanded, and the sense of space within arrangements has improved. "Oscelot," for example, plays looser and funkier than the precise percussion that has often served as Man Mantis's signature in the past. Suddenly, there's just a hint of Timbaland, coupled with unhinged, futuristic swing and spacey, cloud-top synth lines. That song segues perfectly into "Kalimba," a contender for the album's strongest track. Man Mantis teases bits of familiar songs — the piano notes bear a striking resemblance to 2011's "Teacups of Our Ashes" — while keeping an eye toward innovation. Perhaps the most exciting tune is "Tracing Paper," which pairs a progressive beat with contributions from Nocando and Decomposure. It's like seeing a new branch on a tree that grows delicious fruit.


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