OK, there are cool sounds available from offshore these days, as Manta Ray attests to. These three Spaniards half-heartedly claim punk as their genre, but they have an ambient off-the-wall tilt, suitable for background noise at an art opening, or as the sound track to some weird indie film about urban decay. There’s the standard guitar, keys and drum kit, but spicing up the sound are elaborate sound effects, like the stream of intentionally fuzzed beeps, boops and swerps that would work well in a video game, a hip-hop clothing advertisement or a back episode of The Jetsons. There’s even some Theremin lurking around, or perhaps they’ve learned the old country music trick of playing the crosscut saw.
Dedicated to their local political cause, these guys sing in both good English and good Catalan, but avoid proper Spanish as a statement of style. Does this help the music? Not really, but it doesn’t hurt either, as I have almost no grasp of the difference. “Dos cervezas, por favor,” is as far as I got in Barcelona before the exasperated barmaid told me in English that I shouldn’t crucify her native tongue. Manta Ray has an interesting and compelling sound. It’s “Post Punk Jazz” — structure and intellectualism fills the sound, as they push towards something new and complex. Repeated listening pushes the tunes deep into your subconscious. When you hear them a second time, they’re old friends, but you’ll be gosh darned if you could hum one by yourself. Cool stuff, guys, make some more.