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Left Of Manila – Coast EP (Bakermoon Records)

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Despite their exotic Philippines geographical moniker, Left Of Manila‘s music drifts down a more saddened and closer-to-home corridor of sulking, tender synth laments. The Oxford duos debut EP, Coast, is broody to say the least, though also quite ethereal in places.

The like-minded compatriots, Ed Bentley and Mish Pharaon first met on the glacial pistes of the French ski resort, Chambery, whilst both studying at University. At first the duo put on their own nights with Ed adding his cooing vocals and guitar to Mish’s turntable delights. On returning to home soil, Mish set up a studio as Ed put out various recordings under alias, and joined Adam Fleck’s (Babyshambles) touring band, Roses Kings Castles.

Rising slowly from the malaise-y atmospherics of the Manila sound, the striking, beatific, ‘At Your Side’ is the EP’s highlight. The plaintive drifting vocals, lost on the wind, swirl around the main sparsely orchestrated synth backing in gentle washes. A totem beat slides in with breaking a sweat as the song just melts away.  However, the following track, Asleep In Stone, has a heavier tone. Sounding like Soft Cell on Mogodons, the pace is labouring and haunted; Ed slipping away into echo-y expanse of sorrow, pinning at the seasons passing. The last of the trio of moody paeans, Trainway, sets-off a lumbering, chugging ride through a repetitive landscape of passing sound waves and desolate industrial wastes. Radio transmissions break the monotony of this, Panda Bear reaches for the depressants, wooing interval.

Edited versions of both At Your Side and Asleep In Stone are included; both cutting to the money-shot a lot sooner for those who’ve scant time to wait. By far the opening iridescent, At Your Side, stands out as the duo’s best, and should make a lot of those end of year lists.





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