« on: August 16, 2014, 02:48:59 AM »
Maneki Neko "muichi motsu" CD
Maneki Neko, a project of Al Mikula, based in Austin, Texas, certainly belongs to the best kept secrets on the contemplative verges of ambient soundsculpting. It took me quite long time before I was able to explore his soothingly immersing debut album "Auracle", released back in 2005. "muichi motsu", the second installment was originally scheduled for its release during the autumn of 2012. After longer time of silence, "muichi motsu" album finally became a reality in June 2014 through Stray Pointer Records, which is, I believe, own label of Al Mikula. The CD is packaged in tasteful digipak. I remember I was praying for Maneki Neko's return in my review of "Auracle" in May of 2013, so now I am really happy to be a part of this continuing journey...
"Chadō" opens with deeply meditative gongs and reverberations, then breathy flute roars sharply overflow and alternate with fragile tinkles and edgy percussions, while continuously permeated by eloquent stillness. Quite short, sparse and slightly cacophonous beginning, but distinctively expressive, undoubtedly Maneki Neko is back at the very top of his craft!!! On 10-minute "Between Heaven And Earth" tranquilly embracing washes masterfully interact with expressive flute magic and sporadic elusive chimes. This ethereally expansive composition is absolutely gorgeous and it sounds exactly as it is titled. "Water Margin" unfolds with contemplative bells surrounded by richly colorful atmospheric thunder cloudscapes and delicately amalgamated with native flute artifacts and sparkling organic essences. Voice-like drones guard above, but the high-pitched swampy dissonances emerge here and there with its mindscaping touch. Stunningly magnificent auralscape awaits here, just enter the gates!!! Ear-tickling bells announce "Maitreya", but the journey is quickly stolen by serenely immense drifts, always meandering and traversing with breathtakingly panoramic grace, exquisitely augmented by mysteriously fragranced tinkles. Intensely evocative sonic elixir for my ears!!! "Ajna", another longer piece clocking over 10-minute mark, again reveals warmly peaceful scenic vistas, enriched by tinkling subtleties, and caresses the inner realms of each dedicated listener. "The Deeper Well" dives into adventurous subterranean domains, where assorted swirling sounds irregularly rise and glimmer, while rather monochromatic, but circuitous tambura-like drone rides atop. Slightly weirder, but gracefully spacious and mesmerizingly engrossing. Another 10-plus minute composition, "Adrift", remains in cavernous terrains, but it slowly floats and spirals toward bigger subterranean passages protected by occasional divine choirs and undulating rumbles and noises. "Morning Mist" closes this serene journey with hauntingly expansive ambience, safely gliding through beautiful cascades of balsamic natural wonders. An impeccable finale to wrap up this album!!!
"muichi motsu" is another stellar accomplishment by Maneki Neko, it offers eight expertly sculpted sonic meditations with own signatures and it's filled with over 58 minutes of enchantingly absorbing aural symmetry between western ambient textures and traditional Asian instrumental explorations. If you are an aficionado of deeply reflective soundscaping and you are not familiar with Maneki Neko yet, then I highly recommend to you to reconsider your targets, because artistic expressions of Al Mikula deserve to be fully explored, trust me!!!
Richard Gürtler (Aug 16, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)