‘Freedom’ is the second and highly anticipated EP from Juno Mamba, a two year ‘labour of love’ resulting in four songs that each encompass some of this artist’s most “tender memories”. The EP embodies an exploration of personal heritage and a deep dive into the complexity of human emotion through a synth driven soundscape produced to perfection.
Siargao is an island in the Philippine Sea, a renowned surf spot and slice of paradise, but ‘Siargao Dreams’ is an ode to Mamba’s ancestral home. The captivating and complex production style takes shape in this EP through a series of brooding bass and punctuating percussion, each track a kaleidoscope of sound masking one of Mamba’s many memories. The opening track is perforated with stealthy synth, forming the pace for the moving imagery in the track’s Visualiser video.
Onto the backdrop of a cloudy sky, a myriad of film shots showcasing people and planet in all its glory cascade in and out of shot with every beat. Words emerge on screen like a poem scattered from the heavens, the chopped-up stanzas raining onto the surface before fading into nothing. A second wave sees these pictures intensify, each colour like a momentary beam reflecting off the dancefloor, each letter a speck of perspiration falling through the air in time with the percussion.
As the track draws to a close these images feel more like memories to us, signifying stages of life and light with slices of sunsets blurring into a child’s eyes on wrinkled skin.
In ‘1996’, Mamba ropes in recruits to capture his precious moments in lyrical rhymes, with ANTONMOND’s vocals building with the bassline to capture Mamba’s fluid emotions during a “challenging time”. As his tone transforms from a monotonous chant to a melodic verse that winds between beats, we hear how important this union of rhyme and rhythm is in sonic storytelling.
The video opens on a basketball court, the melody of birdsong hanging in the air beneath dusky skies. Instead of a traditional focus on dance, the video spotlights the agility of athleticism, the slow-motion emphasis on the human form intensifying every movement. Making us aware of our symbiotic nature with the pace of life. The last shot is like a film picture we’d find featured in the other visualisers, a snapshot in real time accompanied by the lull of subtle ivory keys.
“the video alike a slideshow of images from forgotten rolls of film, uncovered in a dusty drawer in a room of your new home”
‘Frequency’ is a previously unheard track that builds steadily, gently constructing the sonic synth led soundscape in a looping manner, each beat like a hammer assembling a new layer to the piece. The visualiser for ‘Frequency’ is similar to ‘Siargao Dreams’, the video alike a slideshow of images from forgotten rolls of film, uncovered in a dusty drawer in a room of your new home. Instead of text on hazy skies, the background parallels the tone of the track, with tumbling lava on a rockface symbolising a growing intensity that climaxes with a ‘power down’.
The closing track ‘Slow Malady’ is an ‘ambient piece inspired by hope’, a song Mamba dedicates to his father who sadly passed earlier this year. The track is a memory capsule of treasured time they spent together in the Philippines.
“a defiance showcasing the strength music has to define the temporal permanence of memory”
Opening with a gentle baseline, Mamba layers with sombre brass, a nod to the melancholic undertones which now lace his memories. As the brass fades to silence, birdsong transitions us back to the opening of the track. Yet the tone feels a little stronger than before, the melody lighter and the pitch higher – a defiance showcasing the strength music has to define the temporal permanence of memory. The hopefulness Mamba addresses is crystal clear at the EP’s close, a note of optimism born from mourning.
Sadly you’ll have to be from more golden shores than ours if you want to catch Juno Mamba on his upcoming “Freedom EP” tour as he’s staying on home turf. Nevertheless, this compact and complex exploration of identity is available to hear on all streaming platforms now.