“The earth shall shake and the serpents will dance, for Mansion of Snakes is here”. Cue the thunderclap and the menacing laugh, the 12-piece behemoth from Leeds are back with a cracker called ‘Concrete Money’.
For years now, Mansion of Snakes have been charming listeners with their vivacious afrobeat, come space jazz with a dash of funk in there as well. Their sound is a zesty hubbub of influences and instruments, tied together with energetic melodies and, as is the case with this new release, rallying lyrics. I may be biased (BIG UP the Leeds music scene), but their music is so impassioned, not to mention bewitchingly infectious.
Cautionary warning for any first-time listeners: you will dance.
‘Concrete Money’ brings something a little different from their previous music. The vocals provided by Vanessa Rani imbue the track with a feeling of activism. In their own words, this new release is “inspired by the gentrification of Deptford South East and the ensuing social injustice.” This move is not out of character for their genre of music, continuing the tradition of artists such as Fela Kuti or Nina Simone. As Rani sings: ‘pushed out to the corners/ to make room for the riches’, the song feeds back into this tradition of protest music in which marginalised communities are made visible and uplifted, drawing attention to the injustices of corporations and legislation.
Aside from the lyricism, the track sounds phenomenal. The intensely swift beat of the percussion is adamantly matched by the rhythm of the guitar, when the crisp brass comes in it seems like an unstoppable force of sound. What really got me about this song was the breakdown about 2/3rd’s of the way in. Brilliant ‘psychedelic-esque’ guitar riffs echo over the commanding bass drum (I actually think my heart started beating in sync) before all the textures are introduced back into the track. If you aren’t boogieing by this point you should go see a doctor.
Mansion of Snakes are returning this autumn with a new album, on which I hope to hear more tracks like ‘Concrete Money’. If you live in or around Leeds, slither on down to Brudenell Social Club on November 1st to see this fantastic group of artists. Join the party and get those dancing shoes on!
The verdict: The first thing that came to mind listening to this spicy, eclectic, rich song was the Louisianan dish Jambalaya. With its varying global influences, as well as different flavours, textures and colours, I think this dish suits ‘Concrete Money’ rather well. DELICIOUS!
Listen for yourselves: