Maneki Neko

Record review

Texas Platters

Maneki Neko

Auracle (Stray Pointer)

If Brian Eno's name were switched with Maneki Neko's in the credits of Auracle, it wouldn't be noticed. Not because no one's listening, but rather because the ethereal soundscapes produced by Maneki Neko – the nom de sound of Taylor, Texas' Al Mikula – parallel Eno's ambient Thursday Afternoon, Music for Airports, et. al. Yet here, Eno's experimental tack is supplanted by Mikula's spiritual searching. Melodies emit from prayer bells, gongs, and reed and bamboo flutes, while layers of drones and synth splashes build the filo dough foundation. Not surprising given its name, "Drifting Between Stars" hits like Eno/Lanois/Eno's Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks, whereas "The Road to Madurai" sounds like an outtake from Peter Gabriel's soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ. For those unfamiliar with this flowing, beatless music, it's not an album that – thanks to nuance – plays well in the car. As Mikula describes, its for "yoga, relaxation, meditation, and massage therapy." As such, it's probably not going to convert those who only hear aimless murmurs, but ambient-music mavens shouldn't be surprised if Auracle shows up in future installments of the nationally syndicated Hearts of Space radio program.

**.5

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