# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Mandoki Soulmates - Living in the Gap/Hungarian Soulmates

  by Lisa Torem

published: 6 / 10 / 2020

Mandoki Soulmates - Living in the Gap/Hungarian Soulmates
Label: Sony Music
Format: CD X2


Enthralling double album from prog rock supergoup and collective Mandoki Soulmates which is a cultural and musical revelation

Mandoki Soulmates are as much a movement as a musical phenomenon, or in their own words, “a musical community of shared values, musical rebels, who feel the urge to rise our voices and endeavor to raise Jazz-Rock back to socio-political relevance.” ‘Living the the Gap/Hungarian Pictures’ is a follow-up to Mandoki Soulmates’ previous studio album produced a decade ago. Although the band brought the house down in Germany when performing the contents live (even ending the concert in Berlin with a commemorative nod to the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall), the ensemble longed to reach out worldwide, and here is the result. This ambitious project morphed into a single-topic, double-concept album. When the listener opens up the beautifully coloured gatefold, two attractive discs which resemble vintage, but miniature LPs, appear. Though done digitally, the contents feature a bounty of expertise, including fantastic arrangements by American trumpet Randy Brecker. Along with this project, Mandoki Soulmates produced a celebratory “Charity” song, #WESAYTHANKYOU featuring luminaries, such as solo performer Ian Anderson (former front man of Jethro Tull) and Supertramp saxophonist John Helliwell. This one-off arrangement was written by Leslie Mandoki, with whom Anderson has enjoyed a long professional relationship. Anderson enthusiastically provided vocals and flute. The song was specifically written to “support the first responders in the Covid crisis.” All proceeds from royalties will go to a UN-sponsored Covid fund. Now back to the main project: The “Hungarian Pictures” concept relies on a love and appreciation of the late Hungarian composer Bela Bartok who “mixed traditional melodies from the most diverse regions of the Carpathian plains.” It was after a conversation with Greg Lake (ELP) and Jon Lord (Deep Purple) that this idea got fleshed-out. ‘Living in the Gap’ ‘Living in the Gap’ is the opener. It begins with bombastic bass. Soon screaming keys provide an undercurrent, that fortunately doesn’t overwhelm, as the lead vocalist’s grainy vocals dig into the message: “We’re living in the gap, living in the great divide.” As the plot thickens, syncopated brass erupts. ‘Young Rebels’ takes the tempo down a notch. This thought-provoker speaks of positive, social transitioning as well as the new regime versus the old. “Welcome home to the revolution. Are we young rebels with an old dream? Are we old rebels with a new dream?” ‘Turn the Wind’ clearly states this truth: “We can’t live in a memory,” whilst ensuing a more ethereal panorama. Striking harmonies soar against a soothing and mellow vibe. ‘Where We Belong’ is a more traditionally-structured ballad, beset by soprano sax. ‘Let the Music Show You the Way’ is an all-around glimmering performance. “Too much pride, let it ride” is the central message. This one is the funkiest and most commercial of the cuts. ‘Old Rebels’ is a recap and whilst delving into a brief Zydeco groove, it never loses touch with the underlying theme: “Life is a very strange song we can only play once.” ‘Welcome to Real Life’ gets back to basics, too. “Hungry for life, too lazy to fight?” That cool descending bassline defines ‘Hottest Queen of Cool.’ “She was prominent, a mover and a shaker.” In contrast, ‘Wake Up’ invites a duet between a creamy-voiced female and convincing baritone. ‘Mother Europe’ features Anderson’s compelling flute. Lyrically, it’s a deep dive: “Mothers lost their sons for you. Foolish heroes told them what to do.” ‘I’m Not Your Enemy’ is enhanced by an achingly beautiful Hammond B-3 intro, followed by a tsunami of assertive percussion and electric guitar. Although the intro. is lengthy enough that one might think it’s a pure instrumental, the poignant vocals are worth waiting for. And again, the message is an important one in this day of stark divisions: “I will stand beside you/I am not your enemy.” Hungarian Pictures: ‘Sessions in the Village’ begins with a swirling piano that titillates the senses. A dizzying array of vocals and instruments echo and interlace. ‘Utopia for Realists’ is a philosophical chestnut: “As you meditate in the comfort zone of the age of awareness…” ‘Transylvanian Dances’ can best be described as a thunderous, threatening cacophony offset by animated measures of whimsy. ‘You’ll Find Me in your Mirror’ is more personal: “I had enough fame and my trust is no defense.” ‘Return to Budapest’ is deeply moving in another way. The vocals are unfettered and primordial; pristine as Gregorian Chant. In contrast, ‘Barbaro’ shakes the trees with passionate call and response between keys and brass. ‘The Torch’ closes off this exciting Mandoki Soulmates project, leaving the listener with the most essential advice ever— “Stay hungry, foolish, young.”

Track Listing:-
1 Living in the Gap
2 Young Rebels
3 Turn the Wind
4 Where We Belong
5 Let the Music Show You the Way
6 Too Much Pride
7 Old Rebels
8 Welcome to Real Life
9 Hottest Queen of Cool
10 Wake Up
11 Mother Europe
12 I'm Not Your Enemy
13 Sessions in the Village
14 Utopia for Realists
15 Transylvanian Dances
16 You'll Find Me in Your Mirror
17 Return to Budapest
18 Barbaro
19 The Torch

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