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Mandala: Midnight To Twilight

Lost-in-action trio reform to document their past.

Formed in 1997, Mandala split nine years later without releasing an album. Now reunited, they’ve finally managed a debut, choosing their favourites from the old material and recording most tracks live, in Norway and London, utilising their rediscovered chemistry.

It’s a bit rich to call this “18 years in the making”, but they’ve been around long enough to move from comparisons to Jeff Buckley and Radiohead to whatever zeitgeisty comparisons I make today. The thing is, with their 70s-fuelled heavy rock tropes boasting just the merest dash of prog and an Eastern folk influence, they sound like nothing so much as The Mission’s Zeppelin-referencing Tower Of Strength. Vocalist Rhys Marsh has the gothic tones of that era, and on the leaden riffery of There’s A Wind That Blows, he’s prone to a gale-swept heroic croon. The Dark Waltz reveals a more ambitious outfit, with bassist Francis Booth and drummer Will Spurling deftly playing off against the Tindersticks-like strings. The title cut offers Zen meditations, while Ghizou has a heftier, Rush-related rigour. Midnight Twilight is solid and sturdy, but for all the sweat and bustle, there’s a curious absence of individuality.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.