“For more than a decade, prog-rock stalwarts Mushroom Giant have been plying their trade across Melbourne. Over the course of that time they’ve released a string of EPs and two albums – 2003’s Rails and 2008’s Kuru. They’ve always been a band with a talent for creating epic, cinematic soundscapes, but with Painted Mantra Mushroom Giant have taken it a step further. The sheer scope of the albumis incredible. This isn’t a record you can just drop in and out of at random. It’s an experience, an hour-long voyage through a spectral brew of prog, post-rock, metal and Eastern-influenced rock. And they manage to do it all without vocals.
The sparse guitar lines of opener Event Loop are like the final seconds before a rocket launch. You’ve got five, four, three, two, one seconds to decide if you’re up for the trip. And then the band is taking off, throwing the listener headlong into a blistering riff and not letting up until the final swirling notes of Majestic Darkness close the album over an hour later.
There’s not much point discussing individual tracks. Painted Mantra is steeped in the prog and post-rock tradition of blending songs together, and as such the album works as one cohesive – albeit schizophrenic and serpentine – piece. In the spirit of, say, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the band utilise field recordings as segues (though not nearly to the same extent). Mushroom Giant are also masters of clever tempo and/or mood changes mid-song. One minute they’ll be pummeling you with palm-muted metal riffs, the next they’ll be immersing you in a wash of delicate guitars, reminiscent perhaps of Explosions in the Sky. Mushroom Giant have clearly invested a lot of time, energy and money in Painted Mantra (the recording itself is flawless). Hopefully it brings them the recognition they rightly deserve”
BY WAYNE MARSHALL, Beat Magazine
“Production, courtesy Adam Calaitzis of Melbourne’s Toyland Studios, is dead on the money for this type of record. It’s been left just a touch dry and natural, without too much studio trickery and over-polish. It sounds as though the instruments have been miked up, and the record button hit, then much time, effort and care put into the mixing process to make it sound good, rather than with the use of effects and triggering/replacement. Precisely what a recording like this needs, allowing these very strong pieces of music to breathe”
Summary : ‘Painted Mantra’ is a vocal-free masterpiece. Lovers of sleepmakeswaves, Tangled Thoughts of Leaving and their ilk, sit up and take heed.
4/5 Rod Whitfield SF Media