Comprising of experimental musicians Mathieu Gabry and Christine Ott, Snowdrops‘ debut release Manta Ray is a soundtrack for the film of the same name. Having a soundtrack be your debut release might seem like a bold move, but such is the pedigree of the duo that it feels almost natural. And whilst listening to a soundtrack without the context of its accompanying film can sometimes be difficult, Manta Ray manages to largely stand on its own as an independent musical work, where knowledge of the film isn’t required to enjoy its experimental, modern-classical and avant-garde sounds and atmospheres.
Primarily built upon different types and generations of keyboards, Manta Ray combines electronic sounds and modern-classical and almost dark ambient compositional approaches with an understanding of the power of field recordings to add elements of nature and life to music that could otherwise run the risk of being sterile. Regardless of whether the mood is light or dark (and the album leans especially strongly into the latter), there is a vitality about Manta Ray that conveys its own story – it’s easy to get a sense of the themes and narrative of the film just from the soundtrack.
There are points when Manta Ray works better as a soundtrack than it does as a stand-alone piece, though. ‘The Harmony Of The Rohingya’s Voices / Circles’, at over nine-minutes long, is perhaps too long to work as a piece of music; but it’s also clear that it is a vital part of the film’s soundtrack, being heavy with emotion, foreboding, and the hummed vocal technique that recurs throughout. Such complaints and flaws are minimal, though. Manta Ray is a bold piece of art that is as haunting and captivating as it is emotionally powerful.
Manta Ray is out now on Gizeh Records. Purchase here.
Words: Stuart Wain