Melbourne emcee and lyrical magician Mantra has just released his third studio LP, Telling Scenes. Following on from his debut Power Of The Spoken in 2010 and Speaking Volumes in 2011, Telling Scenes is a stunning and expertly crafted conclusion for the Power Of The Spoken Trilogy. Mantra has teamed up with some of Australia’s most prominent producers, lacing his lyrical genius on a pallet of diverse and adventurous beats. Telling Scenes is an album packed with depth, originality, emotion and quality hip hop.
Telling Scenes opens with the familiar flickering of a film projector, we are transported seamlessly into the opening track, Learn Your Language. An emotive track produced by South Australian beatsmith One Above. Learn Your Language deals with the importance of experiencing the world, coming to terms with who you are, what your soul needs, and figuring out how you will translate that into the way you ‘speak’ with the world. A track that is a true reflection of Mantra’s own inner language.
The Fear, a Ptero Stylus produced track, is an ominous electric boom bap, psychedelic rock inspired monster. Ptero Stylus has worked with Mantra for a number of years now, mixing his debut album and again on the Telling Scenes LP. For Mantra’s part, The Fear is an introspective track that captures feelings of anxiety, an urgent sense of panic and the energy associated with being afraid.
A clear standout on the album is the track Quicksilver, which features the haunting vocals of Simone Page Jones. The track is built around a nylon string guitar and features no drums. Quicksilver is a clear indication that Mantra wasn’t going to play it safe on Telling Scenes. The decision paying off numerous occasions throughout the album. Fortune favours the brave, as they say. We also see Mantra throws his hat in the ring, contributing vocals to the hook, something we haven’t seen from Mantra in the past.
Telling Scenes, the title track to the album, deals with two stories. One being that of the events that led to a political revolution in Ukraine (November 25, 2004), dubbed the “Orange Revolution“. This track reinforces the power of the spoken concept and highlights the parallels throughout Mantra’s previous two albums.
Alia Gabres provides a brilliant spoken word piece titled Baba, as an interlude for the album. An engaging piece, that also plays prelude to the track Baby Girl featuring Kylie Auldist. Baby Girl is a fast paced swing inspired track. Kylie Auldist provides an amazingly soulful hook, echoing similarities to the world renowned Amy Winehouse.
Break Tradition is the second single from Telling Scenes and was produced by the ever masterful Cam Bluff. Break Tradition is a powerfully emotional track. Break Tradition addresses the constant cycle of family violence, abuse, and struggles that many of the underprivileged youth deal with on a daily basis. Mantra has hooked up with long time collaborator in Cisco Tavares and the one and only Massive Hip Hop Choir. Break Tradition is a confronting tack, as much as it offers hope to those strong enough to break the cycle.
Mantra teams up with US rapper Louis Logic for an international collab, resulting in the track Perfect Crime. The track features a killer Must Volkoff produced beat, strung together with a Japanese inspired sample and stomping drums. Mantra and Louis fire off some villainous rhymes, that hit with devastating fashion.
Telling Scenes while it can be seen as a conclusion or ending in one sense, it can also be seen as the beginning of a new chapter for the ever evolving artist that is Mantra. Mantra continues to evolve and push the boundaries of his work, never resting on his achievements. Playing it safe will no longer be an option, if releases such as this continue being the trend. Mantra’s Tellings Scenes rates a mega 4.9 out of 5.