‘Moments’ is both Guy Mantzur’s debut album, and the first LP released by Hernan Cattaneo’s Sudbeat label. The album consists almost entirely of brand new material, and includes collaborations with many of Tel Aviv’s other leading lights: Khen, Stephan Bazbaz, Sahar Z, and Guy J. Musically, it consists of 11 tracks working various angles on Guy Mantzur’s usual progressive house and techno sound, bookended by two quite different compositions. As a nice bonus, the package includes a dub version of the recent single ‘Moments Becoming Endless Time’.
The intro, fittingly titled ‘Intro’, is jawdroppingly haunting and beautiful electronica, with simply gorgeous pads, mesmerizing chimes, and a menacing bass swirling together to deliver something really stunning. The second track is Guy Mantzur’s recent collaboration with Khen, which got an incredible reaction when it was released as a single a month or so ago. I have to admit, I wasn’t really sure what all the fuss was about at the time, though having heard it frequently since then I’ve found that its warm interlocking organ lines, shimmering melodies, and shifting basslines have seriously worked their way under my skin. In retrospect, I suspect that my initial reaction was largely due to the vocals from Kamila, which I have to say still don’t appeal to me all that much. Fortunately, as I mentioned above, Sudbeat have seen fit to include a dub version of this track on the album that takes the vocals out while leaving the rest intact – that’s a real plus here. Next up we have another reappearance of one of Guy Mantzur’s familiar collaborations, this time 2012’s ‘All Over Music’ with Stephan Bazbaz. This is a new version, though, that strips the track back considerably, injects some dub sensibilities into proceedings with cool effects and drum patterns that hover between breakbeats and the original’s four-to-the-floor approach, and warps the main hook into Dr-Who-evoking paranoia. It’s not a patch on the original, which remains one of Guy Mantzur’s best productions to date – but then I already have the original, and this new version is definitely a very welcome new addition.
‘Blackout Station’ is one of the album’s housier moments, though halfway through a sinister, spacey melody creeps in, giving one of the earliest of several nods on ‘Moments’ to the psychedelic trance sound that Tel Aviv made such important contributions to in its heyday. This is dark, trippy, groovy, and superb. ‘Moon Lauch’, a collaboration with another regular studio partner Sahar Z, continues the space theme. A simple offbeat bassline keeps the track bouncing along, while splashes of melody and some nice chord changes keep things engaging. It’s not one of the album’s strongest tracks, and at 11 minutes it’s much, much longer than it needs to be, but it’s still pleasant enough. Yet another collaborative effort follows, and this one’s bound to create a bit of a buzz since it sees Guy Mantzur teaming up with Guy J for the first time. Actually, the result is surprisingly restrained – ‘All In’ is dark and throbbing progressive house built around another offbeat bassline, and although it boasts a really cool drop, it’s overall a pretty low-key, slow builder. If you were hoping for another ‘Meridian’ or something like that, this might disappoint a little, but taken on it’s own merits it’s super hypnotic and I’m sure it’ll work a treat dropped at the right moment.
One of my own favourites is up next, ‘How Long is Now’. This sees Guy Mantzur working with much the same palette as he did with ‘Intro’, but this time the beautiful sounds are backed by a firing progressive track. The result is similar to Guy J’s recent ‘Seven’ in sound and feel, and it’s another of the most emotionally satisfying moments on the album, with the lengthy breakdown in particular standing out. ‘Cumple Suenos’ accompanied ‘Moments Becoming Endless Time’ on its release last month, and it delivers a main room sound with fat bass tones, crashing cymbals, snapping snares, and a breakdown and central melody somewhat reminiscent of Andy Ling’s classic ‘Fixation’ (recently revived by Guy J, of course). My least favourite track on the album, ‘Necessity’, contrasts a disco-tinged bass-hook with ringing, high-pitched jangling synths. A stronger main riff and some lovely pads emerge during the breakdown, contributing to a much better second half, but sadly the piercing synths still overpowered the other elements of the track for me.
More to my liking is ‘This is Mayhem’, which immediately pushes off with a great techy vibe and cool beeps and vocal samples, before a propulsive bassline crystalizes underneath and the track takes off, buzzing, fluttering synths, glassy atmospherics and some well-timed chord changes contributing to the excitement. ‘We Are What We Are’ is the album’s most out-and-out psychedelic number, with a hard-hitting bass and edgy percussion providing plenty of momentum, while mesmerizing synths lose their way above, winding in and out of the mix, and a lead motif twists and turns for maximum damage. Even though this is only the third last track, it’s clearly intended to be something of a climax to the album; it doesn’t disappoint. ‘Instagram’ depicts a more laidback scene, with a chugging deep-house bassline, utterly beautiful chimes, and really cleverly manipulated vocal samples coalescing into a drifting, sparkling winner. The ‘Outro’ sees Guy Mantzur shift gears again, dropping into gentle, introspective electronica, which picks up a little towards the end before chiming itself out of existence.
It’s hard not to feel that Guy Mantzur has played things a little safe here, with only ‘Intro’ and ‘Outro’ departing significantly from the sound we’ve already heard on his singles over the years. The quality of those two tracks shows that he’s clearly got much more range as a producer than his other releases might have suggested, but that range is somewhat underutilized on ‘Moments’. That said, the music that is on offer here is more often than not fantastic, with ‘Intro’ and ‘How Long is Now’ providing my personal highlights. And we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that this is Guy Mantzur’s first LP, and so there’s plenty of scope for him to attempt something more diverse and ambitious in the future. In the end, this is an outstanding release from Guy Mantzur and Sudbeat, representing a high-point to date for both. 9/10