« on: May 19, 2013, 04:54:58 AM »
Maneki Neko "Auracle" CD
Maneki Neko's "Auracle" album was released longer time ago, in the summer of 2005 on Stray Pointer Records, which, I believe, is a label of Al Mikula, the sole protagonist of Maneki Neko. Based in Austin, Texas, Al Mikula is a sculptor of soothing electro-acoustic blankets for yoga, relaxation, meditation, and massage therapy. To be honest, I have never heard of this release and artist until my good friend Karel aka Sonic-Hypnosis pointed me to this crafted sonic healer (Díky, Karle!!!). "Auracle" is Maneki Neko's debut and I was immediately impressed by its excerpts. And the album only proves this, "Auracle" is a great revelation for my ears!!! Equipped with array of acoustic instruments such as Tibetan prayer bells, Egyptian ney, gongs, Japanese shakuhachi, wind chimes..., Maneki Neko masterfully bridges deeply contemplative acoustic sounds with sparse, but expansive drones and gentle natural splashes. "Miroku" unfolds with meditative bells, soon followed by low drone circles and stunningly expressive Egyptian ney flute magics. Celestial choir-like drones come into play later, while sparkling instrumental work steps in and out. "Daybreak", the longest reverie, clocking over 20 and half minute mark, is announced by flute roars, sporadic fragile bells (tinkling every 60 seconds) and heartwarming panoramic washes, richly spacious and softly cascading up and down. Here and there flavored by tranquilizing organic embellishments. The gates of sonic paradise are fully opened and the listener enters the realm of beautifully floating contemplation and stillness!!! Soaring wind, gentle bell and vague chimes lead the next composition, "Cats Sleeping On Clouds". But soon the drones and shakuhachi wizardry steal the journey. Flute barks and resonations attractively amalgamate with peacefully meandering and hovering drifts. The sounds of shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute, are absolutely magnificent!!! This is Maneki Neko at its most distinctive and harmonious!!! "Drifting Between Stars" is more otherworldly and mysterious composition with gracefully floating, evolving and shimmering dronefields, intensified by few wide-screen dissonances, again strongly embracing. "The Road To Madurai" is a pilgrimage to the ancient temple city of Madurai in South India, to famous Meenakshi Amman Temple. Another flute excellence, merged with deeper drones, closes this journey, again mysteriously fragranced, this time with overtone chanting-infused vibrations. "Auracle" is a brilliantly accomplished album with distinguishably immersing arrangements, that for sure will appeal to all connoisseurs of deeply meditative ambience. To me, Maneki Neko is one of the best kept secrets on the scene, a virtuoso sonic meditator!!! I should add that Maneki Neko's next album, entitled "Muichi Motsu" was scheduled for release during autumn 2012, it was mastered already, but unfortunately since September there are no news nor updates on Maneki Neko's website. I pray for the return of Al Mikula/Maneki Neko...
Richard Gürtler (May 19, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)