Exposé Online banner

Runaway Totem — Manu Menes
(Runaway Totem GMG 01002, 2009, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2009-07-01

Manu Menes Cover artRunaway Totem has always tended toward the out-there beyond-the-unusual side of avant-garde rock, and this sprawling 72-minute three-sided monster is no exception. Each of the three side-long cuts explore different dark musical corners in shades of strangeness hitherto unknown, with the unexpected peering around every corner as the listener travels slowly through the immense labyrinth. Presently a four-piece of long-time multi-instrumentalists / vocalists Cahål de Bêtêl and Tipheret and bassist Giuseppe Buttiglione, they are joined by vocalist Isserias Moira Dusatti; Additional guests provide woodwinds and vibraphone. While it’s evident that their music is somewhat influenced by Magma, it’s also clearly informed by a lot of other influences, coming from heavy classical, medieval, minimalist, and operatic schools. The end result is unique – something so beautifully strange and unusual that it couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else. The two later tracks “Ævum” and “Phi-Ur” are dominated by aggressive rhythms and Moira’s vocals, often weaving heavy driving art-rock passages with layers of keyboards and grand choral arrangements, or in the case of the latter, balancing mallet percussion and gamelan arrangements against multiple paths of rhythmic complexity, with voices soaring over it all, eventually ending with an open improvisation for mallets, flute and band. The opener offers a slow building minimalist epic, with repetitive piano figures over sounds of a ticking clock, growing slowly as it goes, culminating with screams and demonic distorted children’s’ voices. This one gets an 11.5 on the weirdometer. Creepy. An excellent disc overall, though.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 37, 2009 releases

Related artist(s): Runaway Totem

Latest news

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Arc and Sender - Arc and Sender – Arc and Sender is a noisy little trio from Maryland that spans the genres of indie/alternative rock with experimental lo-fi grunge. This means the trio can hammer away for hours on brutal chords,...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues