Exposé Online banner

Runaway Totem — Manu Menes
(Runaway Totem GMG 01002, 2009, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2009-07-01

Manu Menes Cover artRunaway Totem has always tended toward the out-there beyond-the-unusual side of avant-garde rock, and this sprawling 72-minute three-sided monster is no exception. Each of the three side-long cuts explore different dark musical corners in shades of strangeness hitherto unknown, with the unexpected peering around every corner as the listener travels slowly through the immense labyrinth. Presently a four-piece of long-time multi-instrumentalists / vocalists Cahål de Bêtêl and Tipheret and bassist Giuseppe Buttiglione, they are joined by vocalist Isserias Moira Dusatti; Additional guests provide woodwinds and vibraphone. While it’s evident that their music is somewhat influenced by Magma, it’s also clearly informed by a lot of other influences, coming from heavy classical, medieval, minimalist, and operatic schools. The end result is unique – something so beautifully strange and unusual that it couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else. The two later tracks “Ævum” and “Phi-Ur” are dominated by aggressive rhythms and Moira’s vocals, often weaving heavy driving art-rock passages with layers of keyboards and grand choral arrangements, or in the case of the latter, balancing mallet percussion and gamelan arrangements against multiple paths of rhythmic complexity, with voices soaring over it all, eventually ending with an open improvisation for mallets, flute and band. The opener offers a slow building minimalist epic, with repetitive piano figures over sounds of a ticking clock, growing slowly as it goes, culminating with screams and demonic distorted children’s’ voices. This one gets an 11.5 on the weirdometer. Creepy. An excellent disc overall, though.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 37, 2009 releases

Related artist(s): Runaway Totem

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Djam Karet - Collaborator – Finally, the wait is over. Three years after the awe-inspiring double release of Burning the Hard City and Suspension & Displacement, America's premier progressive ensemble have returned, but...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues