Dan Mangan + Blacksmith
Canadian artist Dan Mangan’s latest album continues on from where his Juno award-winning 2011 release, Oh Fortune, left off; a collection of experimental, swirling, layered and intricate tracks which sometimes build and explode, sometimes lay almost dormant for their entirety – always intriguing, never boring.
It’s a far cry from his first two records, which were more in the singer-songwriter vein, but his collaboration with a slew of Vancouver-based free-jazz artists which began on Oh Fortune carries on even further here, hence this being his first record credited as himself and Blacksmith.
Lead single, ‘Vessels’, swells and gets bigger and bigger; ‘A Doll’s House / Pavlovia’ sees his distorted voice swirl over a simply plucked guitar with electronics creating heat behind, which is a theme throughout the record – a soundscape, always considered and complex, is created but the focus is on his voice, melancholy yet direct, bringing the focus to his thoughtful lyrics. Not an easy listen, but a rewarding one if you put in the time.
Samuel J. Fell