AMN Reviews: Mansur – Minotaurus (2021; Denovali Records)

Mansur is the genre-defying trio of Jason Kohnen (Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble) on bass and electronics, Dimitry El-Demerdashi (Phurpa) on oud, and Martina Horváth on vocals. Minotaurus consists of 6 complex and textural sonic explorations spanning about 35 minutes, and is to be released on May 28.

As a group, Mansur does not focus on a particular instrument or musician. Bass, oud, and chant-like, wordless vocals are equally well represented, as are electroacoustic layers. While the latter can resemble drone or synth washes, they also include processed or generated sound fragments that crackle, oscillate, and echo. Aside from the oud lines, which might be described as soaring or folk-oriented at times if taken on their own, the mood is quite somber, dark ambient in nature. Horváth’s vocals are outright haunting, evoking the mysterious subterranean labyrinths that the album’s title suggests. Kohnen’s bass brings out subtle, deep tones that add a density to the pieces.

As a result, Mansur occupies a unique space in which traditional instrumentation blends with acousmatic and synthesized sources. Recorded as live improvisations, Minotaurus is perhaps just a glimpse of what this group is capable of. Well done, indeed.

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