My first exposure to Manica happened through his collaboration with Necrosadik from early 2010, and it left me curious. Now, I finally got to hear the band's debut album. Manica plays horror-influenced dark ambient, and at the time of recording this album and the collaboration the band was a solo-project. The band has grown into a duo now, so it'll be interesting how it'll affect its sound.
The songs are mostly between two and five minutes, and are more based on creating the atmosphere than providing any melodies or such; most of the songs have a simplistic (programmed) synth-based background, on which there is either an occasional electronic beat, a disturbing and horror-influenced melody, or a sample of a woman screaming and crying for example. The tracks don't stick to your mind individually, but you might remember the used samples.
There's variation from a couple of really calm and peaceful, almost happy ambient such as on the tracks "Lost/Failure" and "Happiness" to some disturbing sample-based horror such as the track "A History Called Destruction," but for the most part the tracks are somewhere in between them. The album's drive is created by the variation between the whole tracks rather than the individual tracks' compositional hooks and progress.
It seems like the artist was in the phase of defining and slowly refining his concept and ways of expressing it at the time of making this album. It can be seen through the songs lacking their personal hooks, and personality overall; it seems as if the album features some rough drafts and tryouts that were composed and executed in order to get a better image of where to take the project, or to see what needs to be improved. For example, I see no reason whatsoever to justify the existance of the cheap electronic bass drum beat that's present in many of the tracks, as it only succeeds in making the atmospheres sound artificial. The actual synth sounds are really basic for the most part as well, but the used samples take attention away from them and thus make them sound better. Also, it now and then seems as if the tracks were just placed after each other with no greater thought, and some of them end to a wall, amplifying the aforementioned image.
I can see that the artist has an image of what kind of images he wants to portray, and has honestly thought to have succeeded in transforming his ideas into an aural form. I just hope that expanding Manica into a duo has brought some more criticism to the project, so that it would execute some more original and refined material in the future. I'll keep my eyes open for the band's future output, and hope for the best.