Lionks to Detailed Reviews Reviews
"The 20 minute Land of Sprinagar is an utterly amazing piece of music...Mantra Sunrise is A MAJOR ALBUM OF 2000!"....European Progressive Rock Reviews
"Progressive Rock at it's Best"....Dmitry Epstein/Let it Rock....Israel
"It is obvious these guys go their own quite original way of composing...well performed electric and acoustic guitar passages, original bass lines and a strongly constructed rhythm section on the whole...all the band members play there roles excellent according to the Spirit of the Time."....Vitaly Menshikov/Progressor...Russia
"Wonderful material here..unlike anything I've ever heard before. The psychedelic Land of Sprinagar captures Mantra Sunrise in every aspect...a true masterpiece."....Rock Net/Netherlands
"The voice of Bissing is beautiful...Miner is an excellent guitarist (very classical in his approach), and the rhythm section is varied and very dynamic....definetly a group to discover!"....LA VIE EN ROCK/ France
"John has created an album of dark, moody music, almost gothic in nature..." ....Fred Trafton/ Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock
"Imagine a dusty room dominated by eclectic incense, oriental tapestrys and an audience tripping on acid...when Clapton was God...this music is so authentic....Mantra Sunrise has undeniable credibility!"....Marcelo
Comments from Around the World
Line-up: John Miner - electric & acoustic guitars, vocals; Joel Blissing - lead vocals, bass; Wayne Garabedian - drums & percussion; keyboards
Guest musicians: Gary Newmark - drums on tracks 1,4 & 9; Ann Jorgensen - flute on 4
Lyrics by Miner, except 5 (by Miner, Wilk), 8 (by Miner, Bissing), 1 & 9 (by Blissing), Tracks 3,7(pt 1) & 10 are instrumentals.
(Sad to say this, I wrote reviews on "Mantra Sunrise" and "Heaven's Cafe" CDs a few days after a promo package from a new label in Las Vegas had arrived. But as I rushed to the hospital, my wife trying to send these materials to my only colleague on the site (since its birth on October 1, 1998) did not know how to operate the PC, and unpurposely caused some damage to the HDD and the mother board, so they had to be replaced.)
Prologue. IMO, this label was named "Tributary" not at all accidentally. As I guess, a significant part of its releases are and will be as if dedicated to those wonderful, truly good old (old'n'gold!) times that we remember as the years of Love and Flowers, Free Sex, Hippies - those honest children of their own internal Freedom, who rejected any traditional religious teachings (oh well, I still reject them, though I am rather a 'child' of the 70s), Woodstock, and of course, those were the years of the birth of Progressive Rock. Some music from "Tributary" that I heard until now fully corresponds to such terms as early Progressive or pre-Progressive Rock.
I think, the guys of Mantra Sunrise well know such words like Karma, Reincarnation, Previous and Future Lives, Material and Spiritual World (that's for sure, as I've listened to "Heaven's Cafe"!). They also must be familiar with the Music Legacy of the same old'n'gold years in the second half of the 60's, and of course with its progressive manifestations in the face of Cream, Barclay James Harvest, etc, and especially of Procol Harum. Despite the fact I hear some traces of the structures that are more or less inherent to early Procols in the music of Mantra Sunrise, it is obvious that, on the whole, these guys go their own quite original way of composing. With the music of Mantra Sunrise a true Spirit of the Music Legacy of the last years of the sixth decade of the century, already totally forgotten, is born again. The Mantra Sunrise debut album is a real work of nothing less than early Progressive Rock. This is not blues, neither rock'n'roll nor some other style, as the main 'formula' of "Mantra Sunrise" is typical for what we call "our Genre": concrete Rock structures (maybe, with just a few rhythm'n'blues elements) and simple yet once again concrete arrangements on the basis of any theme. Acoustic guitar passages are very nice and at the same time quite complex. All the band members play their 'roles' excellent - according to the Spirit of Time - being as if the musicians of the Past, that comes out from our Future to be our Present each new moment of Life. While all the vocal parts are done very well, I like the instrumental palette of this album even a bit more thanks to the well performed electric and acoustic guitar solos and passages, original bass lines and strongly constructed work of the rhythm section on the whole.
Summary. I can just guess that some of the Tributary stuff are those 'Dead' Stars of the 60's, who were born on the same shit planet according to their own karma. But I know exactly the Reincarnation of Early Progressive Rock has really taken place thanks to the same Tributary stuff. I've rated the Mantra Sunrise debut album as 'simply' a good album from the standpoint of a 'profound' Prog-lover, though of course it is in general really great to listen to such original and at the same time such nostalgic music. I'm sure a lot of (even mature) Prog-heads will fully agree with me, if they really want to remember how it all started. Are you ready for some 'old' yet very refreshing music? Then please go to: http://tributarymusic.com/.
VM. October 11, 2000
Bah... se dovessi dire che questo disco mi ha ben impressionato, direi una bugia. E' una sorta di AOR con qualche atmosfera appena un po' più elaborata, ma niente di speciale. Fortunatamente, dopo una sequenza di canzoni abbastanza anonime, in coda al disco si trova la mini suite "Land of Sprinagar", che rappresenta il punto più alto dell'album. La canzone parte con un incedere marziale e oscuro, per poi lasciare spazio d alcune soluzioni che hanno molto di marillioniano (per via della chitarra carica di eco che fa molto "Misplaced childhood"). E' in questo brano che sono presenti le parti strumentali più belle (ma non molto...) e i momenti più meditativi di un disco altrimenti inutile. Per il resto non c'è molto da dire. Se una volta mi volete ascoltare, lasciate perdere...
LA VIE EN ROCK
Updated 9/21/00 LA VIE EN ROCK / FRANCE (KOIDA9 LE BOUCHE A OREILLE)
This new project from the all new American Label Tributary Music is a trio composed of Joel Bissing (vocals, bass), John Miner (acoustic-electric 6 and 12 string guitars) also creator of the rock opera Heavens Cafe'...to be found on two CD's croniciled in these pages by me, myself and I..in other words by me! The drummer-keyboardist is Wayne Garabedian (does that exist? how does he do it? How many hands does he have?!) Also a few invited performers include Gary Newmark on drums Ann Jorgensen on flute and even a voilinist at live shows...hmm..I wonder why not on the album?
It's difficult to classify the music here, very rock (but in the good sense) with superb guitar work (Miner is really an excellent guitarist, very classical in his approach) with a very varied and dynamic rhythm section. The vocals are very present (three instrumentals on eleven compositions, deep lyrics and the voice of Bissing is very beautiful and aided by the higher voice of Miner. Most of the compositions are relatively short with the exception of the 20 minute Land of Sprinagar which is divided into six sections. The music is clearly 70's progressive oriented The guitars are up front and keys are not so prominent...but despite that the music is particularly savory. The track "Casino" is a little different in that the group is much cooler and helps progress the music in a great moment of anthology.
Swedish Rock Reviews compares the group to Pink Floyd and this I can see but not to Yes or Marillion. All in all definitely a group to discover!
Tributary is a label to follow!
Renaud Oualid LA VIE EN ROCK/ FRANCE (KOIDA le bouche a oreille!) LA VIE EN ROCK
European Progressive Rock Reviews: London, UK
We now come to John Miner's involvement with the band Mantra Sunrise. This needs to be split into three sections starting with the tracks "Brudenell", "Your Heart (acoustic version)" and "Mantra Sunrise" all being superb examples of acoustic guitar instrumentals that give this album a bit of variation. The acoustic guitar continues on the excellent mood creating "Casino" which gives the feeling of hot sultry nights, the music and vocals are a dead ringer for The Triffids meeting The Go-Betweens. This is high quality music. Again the Triffid sound can be found on "Your Heart" and the superb "Northern Lights" and "Why".
We now come to section two with the utterly amazing 20:00 min. progressive track "Land Of Sprinager". This is deep, mood creating, atmospheric, progressive, dark and complex, again I have to say an utterly amazing piece of music with good acoustic/electric guitar passages and spot on vocals.
Finally, and unfortunately, we come to section three with "Time Of The Year" where the guitar gives the impression that it's dragging its feet as if it's struggling to keep time and is a bit over powering and out of tune, apparently deliberately, to fit in with the concept of the song but this track has nothing going for it. On "Sleeping Whales" and "Dying Day" we find the guitar being repetitive and simplistic and too up front and distracting although the entry of the flute on the latter just about saves the (dying) day.
So, what a strange mixture of styles, rock/progressive and Australian indie music, "Triffids" style that is. I love equally both these categories of music so I have no problem with the contrasting styles, both are equally superb. All the vocals are spot on and the amazing progressive epic is worth the price of admission. As for the three tracks that I find a bit simplistic, don't let this put you off, there is some excellent music here. Give it a try.A major album of 2000.
Let It Rock: Israel
It's dark before the dawn, and this trio deliver the twilight mood perfectly, but they aren't experimental having their roots in CREAM. That's very clear in magical "Northern Light", where low voice of bassist Joel Bissing fills the air while John Miner's high-pitched guitar brings the first rays of rising sun into "Why". Guitars are compelling here, especially 12-string used quite rarely nowadays, but how it shines, countrified, in "Time Of Year" - hint on the Fabs' "Sun King" riff hardly a coincidence - before turning to theatrical blues, really something unique. Pure acoustic "Brudenell" draws from country as well as classical but it's a soothing piece linking the music with early art rock tradition, which gets explored in "Dying Day" - pastoral flute, sparse drift, psychodelic feel take a listener to the late Sixties. At this point "Sleeping Whales" starts falling into category of Howe playing Vivaldi, until guitar tide comes up ambiently. Still, it's kept down to earth even when revealing "Your Heart" at first in gentle strumming and then in some BLIND FAITH haze stretching to "Casino". Maybe it's all too melancholic but mantra must help concentrating, not dancing.
OK, mantra's being read, it's time for fun: "Paint It Black" riff kicks in almost 20-minute six-part epic "Land Of Spinagar" to switch to melody borrowed from Hackett's "Hierophant" and then to "Kashmir" scale and a bit more - great ingredientes properly mixed and embellished with the band's own efforts (thumbs up to Wayne Garabedian's drums and keyboards!) give a good result, progressive rock at its best. Day's passed, haven't you noticed? "Mantra Sunset" dims lightly like kissing goodbye. Dmitry Epstein/Israel
Rock • Progessivo • Brasil
John Miner é um talentoso guitarrista (usa uma guitarra de dois braços) americano (Las Vegas). Junte outros músicos virtuosos e o resultado são bons discos. Mantra Sunrise segue uma linha psicodélica com algumas influências góticas. O instrumental é quase perfeito. A suíte Land of Sprinagar é o resultado dessa fusão, ora climática, ora mais hard. Heavens Café é o registro da turnée do disco homônimo. O show foi em Las Vegas e a banda mostra bastante entrosamento. Atenção aos vocais femininos nesta Rock Opera experimental do novo milênio, que é discografia básica. A Passage to Clear mantém o nível dos discos anteriores, com uma levada ora neo-prog, ora hard psicodélico. Alguns cuidados na gravação poderiam ser mais observados, mas como em outros discos, nada que influencie o resultado final destes trabalhos.
Mantra Sunrise — Mantra Sunrise
(Tributary 222502-1, 1993/2000, CD)
by Cesar Montesano, Published 2006-05-01
Another brainchild from John Miner of Art Rock Circus. The bulk of the sound ekes in time with the style of 80s album-oriented rock and a leaning towards tuneful new wave vocalization. Overall, this band can also be fairly well tagged as a melodic pop progressive affair. Exhibiting a bit of twang in a spot, akin to Timbuk 3, we see an extension of intermingled possibilities with stadium rockers like the Allman Brothers and maybe even ZZ Top. That is not the norm and only lasts a few minutes. Halfway through, we have another anomalous section, in comparison to the whole, marking a stake in the namesake and taking us through a mantric excursion. Spiced with latter-day Dead Can Dance moments, we are led into the album's twenty-minute opus. Echo and the Bunnymen antics crop up in a few places of thematic development. The guitars are heavier here than with his other concurrent outfit and exhibit a bit of reverb. Supportive drumming is accompanied by growling bass lines. This methodology is punctuated with interludes of pastoral early 70s folk singer-songwriter styled instrumental acoustic guitar strumming.
Mantra Sunrise is guitarrist John Miner's band before he put together the Art Rock Circus to perform Heaven's Café. Together with Joel Bissing, vocalist and lyricist, John has created an album of dark, moody music, almost gothic in nature. It drips with reverb in every song, but ultimately probably has more in common with The Doors than any symphonic Prog album I might name. The studio technique and lack of synths make this sound like a re-release of a "classic rock" album from the late '60's, though Miner's alternate guitar tunings give some of the songs an odd texture not heard there. The solo electric and acoustic guitar pieces by John Miner, "Brudnell", "Your Heart Acousic" (is that supposed to be "Acoustic"?) and "Mantra Sunset" are the high points, though some of Bissing's vocals are also interesting in a moody sort of way.
Miner and Bissing haven't worked together in awhile, because Bissing has been off to the Seattle Art Institute to study music. He has written another album's worth of material and intends to record it with Miner as Mantra Sunrise again soon. He feels it will have a "Brit-Pop" feel, but Miner says that "it probably won't any more once I get through with it". -- Fred Trafton
TRACK BY TRACK BREAKDOWN
FROM THE JOURNAL OF JOHN MINER
Wayne and I had been in various bands over the years....nothing
too exciting Just various jam bands ect...I had taken off for several
years and done quite a bit of traveling mostly Canada and Australia.
I was writing mountains of material, poetry, various riffs and short
stories...as well as a daily journal. Upon returning home Wayne
and I played together and we tried out some of the music, just guitar
and drums and occasionally a bass riff. I think Wayne was
excited and could feel something happening..things were fresh
and felt genuinely inspired...not just ...ok lets do this heavy riff thing
or something...but there was a certain electricity happening.
After a short time we both knew that a band would be the next step
and we both agreed to the idea of a power trio..
My guitar style was finally taking shape after years of searching
for a definitive approach based mostly on various unorthodox tunings
and such...I felt I would be able to hold the music together without a rhythm
Guitarist or keyboardist when I stumbled across an old analog tape delay
unit (Roland Space Echo)...The Roland gave such a rich tone even
without using delays that it really just started to take over and find
it's own life...I still use it to this day and prefer it over the colder,
and to me, more lifeless digital effects that so many guitarist use today..
Wayne found Joel at the Java Cafe' in Fresno California about six
months later where Joel had been working. He had recently been
transplanted from San Antonio Texas and Wayne played him some
rough boom box recordings of what we had been working on. Joel,
we found out, had been writing in quite a different style and had material
that was much more polished and defined than what we had...I felt
Joel was maybe more of a studio creature and I'm not sure
what he thought of us.
Anyway...we got together and jammed and it was just magical
...I don't really know how to describe it...I mean you hear that all
the time but I really think this was something very special...You can
feel it on the record. Again Wayne came through for us and found
us a rehearsal space in the back of a farm house..at Beverly's...
Beverly Robertson that would be...It was a small one room
guest house in need of much repair where goats used to live...
..In fact as we would head down the dirt road to the space,
Beverly's goat... "Homer" would often block the road and we would
have to slowly nudge him out of the way with the bumper of
the car to get him to move...we called him "Homer the Gate Keeper".
So we would just be down there all the time nearly every day...recording,
playing, sitting on the roof writing and trying to make this
record...I don't think we really knew what it was going to sound
like when it was done but we were all very excited and just kept
on it with a tremendous amount of motivation. That's really how it
"Why" was Joel's song, lyrics and music, and I'll get him here to talk
about it when I can... As far as the recording goes...after I read the
lyrics, I felt the guitar needed some extra body and I was really
shooting for a big reverberated open sound to go with the slow
building epic feel. It was one of the last songs we did which was
obviously in contrast to it being the first song on the album!
The first takes I recorded off a scratch track in a friends metal
trailer out in the country...I used a Marshall half stack, very old
vintage 60's and just blasted it with my electric 12 string on the
top of my white double neck Ibanez.
Once I had a stereo take I then played it back through
speakers inside a racquetball court and then re-miked it
again...I took the four tracks...blended them all together into a
stereo mix wa-la...it worked well...I used this technique quite a lot
on the album..not this exact approach but similar.. I really wanted
every song to have a unique guitar sound and be recorded in it's
own unique way...and I believe to this day it makes a real difference.
TIME OF YEAR
TIME OF YEAR centered around a poem I had written and without
getting too detailed about the lyrics it basically represented the
searching and struggle to find truth in the context of our ever
changing world and it's seemingly endless frustrations and dilemmas.
I think most of it was written while sitting bored to death in some
awful political science class at the university I attended. Musically
I had the idea to put the guitar slightly out of tune in the very beginning
to represent the sort of "out of tuneness" we all often feel at various
times in our lives. Things then sharpen up as we descend into
life.... build into a frenzy and often leave us just where we
started...wondering and questioning...
Joel had a particularly difficult time with the vocals until he
went to the mountains...recorder in hand, and had a talk with
the sunshine. After he returned you get to hear what happened
and if your like me....I think its quite interesting.
Brudenell is named after the place it was written at...a small area
on the island of Prince Edward or as most would call it PEI. A very
light and happy tune played in an open tuning. It's always one of
my favorites any time I'm doing a solo gig or just playing around a
campfire with friends. I think it fits nicely on the album like a quick
breath of fresh air between Time of Year and Dying Day.
This piece was really a blending of a poem and a musical line
I'd been working on for some time. I know it's Joel's favorite on the
record. the lyric is pretty self explanatory for sure. We really tried
to capture a specific feeling with the music. We were probably half
way into the album and Wayne was going through a difficult time and
I think he felt a lot of pressure and anxiety about how the album was
being recorded. Joel and I were very excited and motivated and
Wayne just took a break for awhile and we brought in our friend
Gary Newmark to help us along...This was the 1rst song we did
with him...the others "Why" and the huge "Land of Sprinagar". We
decided to go for a big ethereal sound to enhance the lyric and
Gary was instrumental in giving it a more interesting rhythmic
backbone than what Joel and I had intended. Rather than put in
some big predictable guitar solo we brought in Ann Jorgenson
from the local symphony to further the development with her flute
and that really gave the piece a kind of mystical aura... that I'm
not sure I would have been able to capture with just the guitar.
I used a stereo guitar track panned dead open in the mix and Joel
spent quite a while playing with his bass tone getting a smooth yet
crunchy sound to me felt like walking on jagged rocks when your
at the ocean...calming yet still careful.
My great friend and traveling partner Vic, were high in the Canadian
Rockies, not far from Radium and you could see the glaciers melting
into the streams and I just felt this feeling of unbelievable perfection
and beauty.. the streams turn into bigger ones...eventually
rivers....across great vast plains then finally to the ocean giving
life to all the seas wonders. Yet with the ever encroaching danger
of modern life we must protect such pristine elements and be careful
with what we have recently created in the industrial age..Musically
very simple... just simple A and C cords gently swaying back and
forth through the Space Echo... and rather than giving
acknowledgment to any negativity lyrically...I just played a few
dark cords in the middle of the song to represent that musically...Joel's
peaceful and soothing voice bring the lyric to life and I think one
of the simplest yet most impressionable songs I've ever done to this day.
We arrived into Southern Alberta Canada and on the first day
Vic and I met a young girl from New Zealand who was also just
traveling around with a backpack and living that gypsy bohemian
life. We spent a day in Glacier National Park which is shared
by the U.S. and Canada. In this true story they fell in love, ended
up married and this song really came out of that experience....On the
long drives in the weeks ahead, we worked out the lyrics and
music to what would later become this song. It's really about that
new and fresh feeling of being in love and the feeling of what to
do when they live on the other side of the planet! When I put the
song on the table for Mantra Sunrise to record... it became a difficult
task for us to produce...Wayne spent weeks working on a drum
sound that would compliment the light and airy acoustic guitar
sound I was aiming at. I think Joel did a wonderful job with the
bass, accenting Wayne's kick drum in the right pocket... It was
certainly the most challenging song for Joel vocally on the
record. We probably did more takes at it than the whole record
combined! I think the end result worked nicely but not without struggle.
I think the song called for a tight clean sound and we just had to work
on it a lot to get it there. The end of the song is really just row, row,
row, your boat gently down the stream....happily, happily, life
is but a dream!
YOUR HEART ACOUSTIC
This little guitar piece is just the next song played acoustically
in a finger picking style...same chords and arrangement..yet so
completely different. I thought it would be nice to also have it presented
in this way. I used a similar recording style as Mantra Sunset...a few
less mics. I think I recorded about 5 versions and just took the best
one...this being it!
In complete contrast to Northern Light Joel's one take vocal run
was all it took here...Your Heart is just not the kind of song you
can over think...We later messed around with different approaches
but nothing came out with as much emotion as the first time.
This painful song is surely not about being too perfect! Wayne
actually gave birth to this tune with some drum tracks he handed
me. I had fiddled around with this somewhat bizarre 18 chord
progression in a strange tuning over the top of his drums...very
haphazardly and without much thought or design...I wrote lyrics
to match the dark tone of the song based upon a recent experience
of mine and it just started from there. Joel then twisted the vocal
melody from there and it just really got out there...A real group
effort! The guitar was recorded at the Goat House and I really
wanted to max things out sonically so I ran a chord outside
and played in the sun while the Marshall amp I had shook the
structure inside...we used tons of mics and had another amp
I think an old Sunn stuffed in a closet upside down. It was a
very fun song to record and really went down pretty easy. I'd
call this the most experimental piece on the album short of
Sprinagar. Live we would often extend the intro for several
minutes while I was changing or retuning guitars....I remember
one night losing all sound from my guitar and Joel and Wayne
just played the whole thing without me...I don't think anyone noticed!
I'll get him here to talk about this one (Joel)...he wrote and played
it himself other than a bit of backup vocal..Very visual song and
I think the most sensual piece on the record.
LAND OF SPRINAGAR
I had been wanting to do a large scale piece for quite some time
and the aspiration for that came on the ferry ride from Vancouver
to Victoria, I love that place! I had been reading Paramahansa
Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi and oddly enough I was
sitting next to an East Indian man on the ride over. He didn't speak
English very well and seemed to say Sprinagar...with a very
pronounced "P" in it...I thought that a bit unusual so when it
came time to name the mammoth piece it only seemed appropriate!
Upon arriving I meditated for an hour or so and then picked up
my guitar and wrote the whole rough draft for the song in about 3
hours! I wish that would happen more often! I was so excited
and inspired I could hardly sleep for days. The song was recorded
in five sections and literally took six months to record... It nearly
broke the band up and Wayne actually quit half way through it.
Both Wayne and Gary's playing is on the song. I spent a week
writing the two guitar solos and a month figuring out and recording
the ethereal key thing in the middle. The song was just a monster
to mix and left me totally drained emotionally when it was done.
You have to love this song...you have no choice!
The song is about the passing of wisdom from generation to
generation...and the constant seeking of truth in the three
worlds...the physical represented in the drum solo. The intellectual,
guitar solo. The Spiritual, keys. This song was a real labor of love...
Ending the album with Sprinagar seemed a bit too obvious so
I thought it would be nice to wind things down a bit and put this
little solo acoustic piece on the end. I wrote it in Sedona Arizona
during my travels and it really came quite quickly. I had hiked
up top of House Rock bluff with my guitar over my shoulder
and just played up there till the sun went down...... later finding
a few passing chords and the piece was done. Recording it
I used a Yamaha acoustic electric and using several mics and
one direct line..another bussed through a tape delay unit and it's
got a soothing warm tone. It was actually Joel's idea to name
the band Mantra Sunrise after this song..so we changed it from
sunset to sunrise!
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