Mandragora - Temple Ball. 1994 England

For my money, Mandragora were one of the top UK festival / space rock bands of the 1980s and 90s, perhaps only bested by Ozric Tentacles and Omnia Opera (though really obscure bands like Crow and Blim were just as outstanding, but those are more recent discoveries for me).

Mandragora's trajectory was a bit different, however. On album at least, they started with hard rock, moving ever slow slowly to space rock, then onto ethnic tinged electronic rock, some techno, etc... I like all of their albums, but it was on Temple Ball that the band finally unleashed their ferocious guitar fronted space rock style. Like many of the bands of their era, Mandragora mix in recorded TV and radio bits to add to the ominous atmosphere, before launching into another intense jam.

The monster track here is Talking to God (Part IV), but other great pieces include Zarg, Inside the Crystal Circle, Rainbow Warrior and the title track. The album claims to be recorded live "in the Crystal Feb '94", but I don't think it's an actual concert. If it was, then it's been completely edited like a studio album and there's no audience noise. I prefer it this way myself.

This is definitely the best album on the excellent Mystic Stones label, and sadly, very close to the label's last release.

Personal collection
CD: 1994 Mystic Stones

Last listen: 2011

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