Review: Natalie Rose LeBrecht — “Mandarava Rose”

Natalie Rose Lebrecht is one of my absolute favorites. Her music has always been all over the place with her first album “Daymares and Nightdreams” playing around with lo-fi piano rants full of distress. “Warraw” — touching upon freak-folk incantations. “Imagining Weather” — pushing the freak-folk into more desolate areas, and finally ending up with “Ascend at the Dead End” that infused a lot of Eastern influences into her songwriting. After 7 years, we get to hear the next chapter in her musical oeuvre. Mandarava Rose.

Mandarava Rose cassette record
photo: Bandcamp

This time we get a gorgeous ambient pop record! With inspiration from Alice Coltrane and assistance from minimalist composer David Lackner, the album is a meditation on matters of galactic proportions. It is full of shimmering pianos, echoing bells and very minimal saxophone breaths. It’s full of freedom, love, and spiritual ascension. They are all intertwined with a dream-like instrumental accompaniment full of repetition and drones, seeming almost infinite. The entire album appears to exist in a haze like a cosmic cloud of some sort.

Mandarava Rose cassette record
photo: Bandcamp

The album, just as every other release from Natalie, wouldn’t have been half of what it is without Natalie’s vocal performance. She is always dynamic with her vocal range and always finds the exact right vocal arrangement for each scenario. It maintains a soothing, dream-like state throughout the entirety of the album but never gets repetitive or stale. It fits right in with the mellow-sounding saxophone parts, merging into one of the most pleasant duets from this year.

Mandarava Rose cassette record
photo: Bandcamp

I have very few complaints about this record. Maybe there could have been a bit more variety to the sound of the record. But in a way, it would interrupt this sense of unity and infinity throughout the entirety of its duration. I am also slightly saddened that some of the Aura series pieces that Natalie posted on YouTube a while ago under pseudonym greenpotbluepot weren’t present on the record. I think that they would fit the overall “feel” of the record.

Mandarava Rose cassette record
photo: Bandcamp

One of my favorite records from 2019 so far. I highly recommend checking it out and looking into Natalie’s previous releases for even more magical worlds with a slight hint of “weirdness” to them. You can listen to the full album here.

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