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Album of the month | At The Moment by Mano Le Tough

The understated Irishman balances ambivalence with unguarded optimism on Pampa.

Artist: Mano Le Tough
Title: At The Moment
Label: Pampa Records
Released: 20 August

Sounds like: A continuation of the sound, tone and experimentation of 2015's Trails, by a producer revelling in artistic freedom

Mano Le Tough

Mano Le Tough has enjoyed plenty of success on the production front in the past.

His 2014 remix of Caribou's Can't Do Without You alongside Tale Of Us, still gets dancefloor reactions to this day. Then there's TOU's equally popular remix of his own track, Primitive People - another of the biggest underground tracks from the same year.

Seven years down the line, and the relationships forged in those studios sessions remains strong. Mano Le Tough continues to be a regular for the Afterlife party series around the globe.

Yet it's clear, while other artists associated with the brand have moved into to the top tier of festival headliners, Mano didn't make the step-up with them.

Far from getting left behind, we suspect that was deliberate on behalf of an artist who's always favoured solitude over private jets, Instagram visibility and the allure of the limelight.

Club tracks aside, largely, that sensibility has been reflected in his music. He's on record as saying he prefers making music against the backdrop of countryside than an urban setting.

The man who hails from sleepy fishing community, Greystones, on Dublin's outskirts, dabbled with the scenesters with a move to Berlin. It was short-lived, and the artist found himself relocating again, this time to the picturesque Swiss town of Meilen - shades of home, no doubt.

Maeve, the label he formed with Baikal and The Drifter, has been a go-to for electric music vibrating just inside the leftfield and always with an earthy quality.

Recently, he's popped up amongst the star-studded names on the new CircoLoco Records - proof he's still comfortable of hanging at that end of the spectrum.

Big fans of his earlier two albums, we looked forward to nestling down for an uninterrupted listen of his next, coming via Hamburg's continually classy Pampa Records.

At The Moment

"poetry is the language of crisis"

At The Moment, Niall Mannion's third studio album as Mano Le Tough, arrives at the back-end of the pandemic. It's fair to assume much or all of it was recorded during the thick of the crisis. The producer is quick to point out, that while the experiences of the pandemic have naturally shaped the record, there is optimism too.

Sampling an infomercial from its titular island, album opener Man Of Aran conjures the anxiety and desperation of a ship caught in the storm, with choppy synths and melodramatic strings. The metaphor is clear: standing tall and defiant in the face of insurmountable odds.

Although there's a sense of familiarity to the music, with earlier works clearly being referenced, equally there's also the feeling of an artist growing in stature and gaining confidence where it was perhaps lacking before. Pampa label boss, DJ Koze, gifted complete artistic freedom and that vote of confidence is evident.

New/Cycles is an interesting case in point, revisiting themes from the previous album, Trails. Only this time around, Hip-Hop beats are added to the melting pot of sci-fi soundscape pads and overlapping melodies. The result is a slinky slice of retro-futurism.

(fans of Jamie XX's In Colour, take note.)

Aye Aye Mi Mi, one of the first tracks penned, highlights how far Mano Le Tough has come as a singer and songwriter. The fact that he records his own vocals without featuring any third parties, gives his material a personal fingerprint.

Meanwhile, instrumental tracks such as latest single, No Road Without A Turn, show the producer excelling in his comfort zone. The track's underlining take-away, is that the only thing predictable is unpredictability. There might not be a vocal, but you'll find the bassline infectious after repeat plays nonetheless.

Closing track Together is a glitchy dance number that channels rave nostalgia. Inspired by an old Sven Väth set from Love Parade. Juggling feelings of togetherness and separation, the track contextualises the absence of partying in a reality where dancing is banned. We're confident that the Cocoon boss will approve.

At The Moment has dub disco, indietronica and even a little serving of dancefloor energy, but for the most part, it should be considered the artist album where Mano Le Tough found his groove.

The world falling apart was a big part of it, but Mano's personal journey as an artist has lots to be optimistic about.

IMAGE | by Kostas Maros

Highlights: Man Of Aran, Aye Aye Mi Mi, New/Cycles, Together

At The Moment is out now and can be streamed and downloaded at all the usual places.

To discover more music the Ibiza Spotlight team are enjoying right now, head over to our Spotify profile and click subscribe!

Other huge albums released this month:

Joy Orbison | Still Slipping Vol. 1 | XL Recordings | 13 August
Demuja | Period Of Time | Universal | 20 August
Mark Reeve | Breathe | Drumcode | 20 August
Becky Hill | Only Honest On The Weekend | Polydor | 27 August

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