The overriding characteristic of Mana’s first album with Hyperdub, ‘Seven Steps Behind’, is the way in which its composition is entirely distinct from traditional ideas of electronica. The record has an almost orchestral feel to it; a refreshing, innovative, and largely beat-less sound that has been described in its press release as having “caught an alien virus and started hallucinating”.
By mimicking, sampling, and sporadically layering instruments alongside ‘traditional’ electronic synths, this record at times seems to blur the line between classical and electronic music. The result is a dreamlike production that shows a disregard for club music’s constraints, concerning itself primarily with constructing an auditory world for its listeners. This is reinforced by the dreamscapes and hallucinatory videos that accompany some of the tracks. I spoke to Daniele himself to find out more about this enigmatic album.
The album feels very much like a series of melancholic, and often tormented dreams sewn together. How did you develop this sound? Is it an auditory translation of your own dreams?
Mana: The main inspiration of the album is coming from visions and dreams I had during my lucid dream night activity. The aim since the beginning was to write something that was supposed to soundtrack my subconscious imagination. I’ve been sketching simple drawings to fix my ideas and then using them as a reference to imagine what the music should sound like.
What do you hope people will take away from the experience of listening to a sonic representation of your subconscious?
Mana: I hope people will take the right time and abandon themselves to it, I left a lot of space for the imagination of the listener to imagine what they feel while diving into ‘Seven Steps Behind’ even the track titles are open to diverse interpretation and I hope everyone will find their own meaning and visions to it.
After watching your music videos, you clearly place an emphasis on a visual aspect to your music. Will there be an visual accompaniment to your live shows? And if so what should we expect, and how will it enhance your immersive sound?
Mana: Exactly. I think you got the point. My music is very visual. The inspirations and the ideas are mostly coming from visions. My new show is A/V, curated by Plusminus, (the same studio who designed the artwork and the ‘Solo’ video). We put together all the symbology which is present in the album imaginary, from the Kabbalah numerology to Roman and Ancient Greek myth, but also some footage from Andrea Cossu who directed and wrote the video for ‘Talking/Choking’.
The mournful atmosphere of the album, and track titles like ‘Myopia For the Future’ suggest a concern for where we are headed in 2019. Was this something you hoped this album would implicitly critique?
Mana: I think the first two tracks ‘Risk Taking’ and ‘Myopia For The Future’ have both a double meaning in them. They both have a relation with what is the dream state, where it’s impossible to have a feeling of time, what is now and then is blurred and melted into one flat spiral of time where past and future have absolutely no meaning. But of course, there’s more, inside every piece of the album there’s also what I see every day, a present that doesn’t allow much hope for a bright future. Discomfort in the streets, poverty and environmental crisis that is making this planet collapse in on itself.
See Mana live: