39838-2 Mamouna
Produced by Bryan Ferry & Robin Trower
Released on September 20, 1994
UK CHART POSITION #11 . . . US CHART POSITION #94
Find it at GEMM
39838-2 cover
[high resolution scan]
 

B ryan Ferry returns to the role of world-weary romantic on Mamouna, but he’s picked up some new tricks along the way, made plain in the opening moments of “Don’t Want To Know.” The electronic effects announce the singer’s intent to infuse his muse with the mix-heavy melange of ambient/techno, underscored by the participation of Brian Eno. And the Roxy reunion doesn’t end there: Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay return on a few tracks as well. Bryan has never really shaken the ghost of Avalon, choosing instead to bring the original vision into sharper focus over the years. It’s the attention to sonic detail on Mamouna that stands out in my mind; the melodies are otherwise transparent, the vocals lovely but reduced to melancholy mumbling in spots. The guitar parts read like one of Eno’s ambient endeavors: mood guitar, atmosphere guitar, drift guitar, scratch guitar. These drift in and out of music, as do the sultry backing vocalists, found voices, and Bryan’s own keyboards. (Unlike Bete Noire, Ferry writes all the material and plays much of it himself.) It’s a remarkable world, one that wraps around you like a thick mist and offers tantalizing shapes in the shadows. And then there’s the inseparable beat, the unseen heart in this amorphous entity. At first, Mamouna is captivating, “Don’t Want To Know” and “Your Painted Smile” in particular. But, as often happens with Bryan Ferry, style and substance seem inextricable; “Mamouna” slips past like a cool breeze, “The 39 Steps” dissipates into the darkness much as Avalon’s “The Space Between.” The closing tracks shake the dust from Morpheus’ cloak to deliver scintillating sounds: the warmly rendered “Which Way To Turn,” the invigorating “Wildcat Days,” the surprising “Gemini Moon.” As the mist clears in the waning moments of “Chain Reaction,” we’re treated to a glimpse of what surely must be Roxy’s old ghost, reminded again that the two spirits dwell in the same house. For some reason, I approach these albums braced for disappointment and walk away resolute in my respect for Ferry’s artistry. If I place this behind Bete Noire, it’s by a nose at best. The two are both solid works, and I had initially expected to endorse Mamouna (downbeat mood and all), until I reflected that the disc could have been even better. It’s to Bryan Ferry’s credit that I can hold him to such high standards after all this time, but the fact remains that half of Mamouna is merely good. The other half is well worth the trip for any would-be Orpheus, a ferry ride across dark waters to where lost loves loom like shadows.

39838-2 inner sleeve 39838-2 back sleeve
39838-2 inner sleeve 39838-2 back sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. DON'T WANT TO KNOW    4:06
  2. N.Y.C.    4:05
  3. YOUR PAINTED SMILE    3:19
  4. MAMOUNA    5:11
  5. THE ONLY FACE    4:40
  6. THE 39 STEPS    5:01
  7. WHICH WAY TO TURN    5:44
  8. WILDCAT DAYS    (Bryan Ferry/Brian Eno)    4:34
  9. GEMINI MOON    3:47
  10. CHAIN REACTION    5:09

    JPN reissue bonus tracks
  11. IN EVERY DREAM HOME A HEARTACHE (LIVE)
  12. BETE NOIRE (LIVE)

    All songs written by Bryan Ferry unless noted

CREDITS

BRYAN FERRY -- vocals, piano, oberheim, witch, syn-oboe, syn-sax, choirtron, syn-DAT, vocoder, juno, prophet, vidor, jupiter, berlin piano, strings, art direction
CARLEEN ANDERSON -- backing vocals
NATHAN EAST -- bass
BRIAN ENO -- sonics, sonic awareness, sonic ambience, sonic emphasis, swoop treatments, sonic distress
STEV FERRONE -- drums
NEIL HUBBARD -- rhythm guitar, licks guitar, lead guitar, swamp guitar
CHESTER KAMEN -- mood guitar, card guitar, latin guitar, scratch & arab guitars, drift guitar, mutron guitar
RICHARD T. NORRIS -- program, loops, additional engineering
JEFF THALL -- atmosphere guitar
DAVID WILLIAMS -- riff guitar, backing vocals, rhythm guitar
Luke Cresswell -- percussion
Rhett Davies -- program
Yannick Etienne -- backing vocals
Guy Fletcher -- synth
Luis Jardim -- percussion
Neil Jason -- frog
Jhelisa -- backing vocals
Paul Johnson -- backing vocals
Nan Kidwell -- astrologer
Andy Mackay -- alto sax
Phil Manzanera -- gull guitar, atmosphere guitar
Mike Paice -- alto sax
Pino Palladino -- bass
Maceo Parker -- alto sax
Guy Pratt -- wah bass
Nile Rodgers -- rhythm guitar
Steve Scales -- percussion
Fonzi Thornton -- backing vocals
Nick De Ville -- art direction
James Ward -- painting
Zanna -- video
Tamar & Zoe -- cover girls
Steven Cassidy -- photos
Dr. Simon Puxley -- consultant
Johnson Somerset -- assistant producer
Sven Taits -- engineer
Bob Clearmountain -- mixing

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK September 20, 1994 Virgin CD/CS CDV/TCV 2751  
US September 20, 1994 Virgin CD/CS 39838 lyric sleeve
JPN 1998? Virgin CDX TOCP-53307 w. bonus tracks
US March 28, 2000 Virgin CD 47115 digital remaster

 

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