In building up such fervor, the Canadian collective has always chosen the offbeat path. So why should their first full-length be any different? While affiliates like Cloudface and Hashman Deejay have released albums on Black Opal and Future Times, Mood Hut presents a compilation with Disco Mantras. You'd be hard-pressed to know who does what, as producer credits like "Blue Heron's Tribute to PH" and "Lion Heart and Cee Zee Du" don't quite clarify who is behind these seven tracks. The album text calls them "loose-ish collaborations straight from the swamps and isolated bus stops of the lower mainland."
The key descriptors here are "loose" and "swamps." Disco Mantras feels gaseous, hazy, hard to grasp. It's also labelled "new music," but it sounds more like loops and edits of obscure tracks, run through gently psychedelic effects. Whatever the source sounds are, they're maddeningly beyond reach or recall—be it the soulful trill of voice and horn on "Paul's Blues," the shimmering keyboard run of "Memories In Time," or a just-audible utterance of "dancing" gleaned from between the dubbed-out hand percussion. But just as I was about to write that we might never source the Afrobeat percolations on "Sunny Dae," the spires of guitar come through the murk and it dawns on me that it must be The King Of Juju himself. It becomes an aspect of Disco Mantras upon many repeated listens, the murkiness of the edits giving way to moments of clarity.
At times, these edits touch on all of Mood Hut's references. Take the zoned-out "Hymn To A Whale Talker": it's built on a ludicrously screwed-down dub reggae beat and then paired with gurgling water, whirring tape and new age flute, all of it drifting in and out of focus. Don't expect an album's worth of tracks in the style of "Thirstin'" or "Bubble World." Disco Mantras is more interested in capturing the aura of Mood Hut's loft parties than in recreating their dance floor.