France’s Grande Loge offers Mantras, their first full-length album. While ostensibly falling into the tribal ambient subcategory, Mantras is so richly composed and performed that anyone who appreciates folk, ambient, free improvisation, or throat singing would find much to like herein.
Instrumentation centers around violin, buzuki, nafar, shaman drums, and tanpura, giving the tracks a medieval and ritualistic feel. The vocals are layered chants that encompass ancient prayers, apparently in both established languages as well as patterns of syllabic utterances. The registers of the voices vary from bassy to midrange. Accompanying them are martial percussion and strummed strings.
The compositions are dense and earthy, evoking ancient cultures. This results in cinematic overtones as well, and it is easy to see how some of these pieces could be incorporated into movie, television, or video game soundtracks. Comparisons could be made to Raison d’Etre and Phurpa, but Grande Loge is its own animal. A very well done and welcome debut, just in time for the solstice.