Sometimes less really IS more. It’s certainly the case with Mtendere Mandowa, aka Teebs, on his first full length album in half a decade and third in total. The gentle swathes of electronica which permeate opener ‘Atoms Song‘, which also features a guest appearance on guitar from Thomas Stankiewicz, are like a dreamlike transgression into a childhood playing old school video games like Donkey Kong or Tetris (yes I AM that old. What of it?). But unlike that kind of therapy, no dark underlying problems are brought to the surface, just a happy nostalgia that relaxes you like your favourite whisky on a cold winter evening. Like many of the tracks on offer here, it does a great job of warming your soul, not least the gorgeous, tender vocals of Anna Wise on the charming ‘Threads‘. Anna possesses a voice that could reasonably be described as that of a modern day Karen Carpenter and suit the smooth beats beautifully.
One thing I certainly wouldn’t advise, however, is listening to Anicca while driving, for it has such a calming demeanour that, rather than hurtling off the edge of a cliff Thelma and Louise style, you could easily find yourself in such a heightened state of inertia that you forget to apply the brake pedal. I guess the good thing is, this is so relaxing that you probably wouldn’t even panic as you plummeted down.
Panda Bear brings a soulful, slightly off kilter feel to ‘Studie‘, marking it out as a real highlight along the way and twisting it ever so slightly closer to the feel of his own Animal Collective.
Often you feel like you’re in the middle of some great expanse while Annica plays, perhaps amongst the mountains or prairies of Northwest America, maybe even deep inside a canyon, but there’s always the aura of being a tiny part of something much bigger, more spiritual, particularly on the unpredictable stop starting of ‘Prayers ii‘.
Whatever Mandawe’s intention was behind the creation of this album, what can’t be denied is that it’s a real soul cleanser of a record, and finally marks him out as one of electronic ambient music’s true masters.
Anicca is out now on Brainfeeder.