Written by: Michael Placencia
Of all the artists currently out there, especially when it comes to Mau5trap artists, No Mana has been a hidden gem amongst them all. Over a dozen EPs and tons of hit singles later, No Mana has finally made his grand debut with Secret Level.
If you’ve been following him for the past five years or more, you’ll instantly feel at home once these tantalizing sounds grace your ears. But who is No Mana? Well the real face behind the name is none other than Jordan Orcaz, who hails from southern California. No Mana has been around for quite some time, but this album isn’t just a breath of fresh air for the uninitiated, it’s a big splash of creative ingenuity from No Mana himself.
The album begins with its title track, “Secret Level.” A nice little 8bit tune that No Mana teamed up with Chipzel on. “Strangers” is easily one of the album’s bigger (if not biggest) tracks. The promo for it was beautifully done if you were following all of the teaser videos from No Mana’s Instagram. The video showcases what appears to be two star-crossed lovers meeting. What sets No Mana apart is the way he uses his branding to truly tell a story. All of which was done perfectly by each promo video having been a pixelated story. “Only Noise” picks up the pace with a more dance-heavy track. Which really stands out thanks to the vocal talent of Voicians. “Bed of Stars” is probably the best unintentional ode to deadmau5 you’ll probably hear. It’s Progressive House goodness will have you drift away to its serene sound. This is definitely a song to drive alongside a skyline at night.
“Distance” is definitely a track one can easily relate to especially with the lyrics ringing truth from situations and feelings that can occur in one’s love life. That Progressive Electro House beat really pounds into your eardrum in the most infectious of ways. “Bottle Service” is a playful little tune, but a nice change of pace from the more vocal-filled tracks. The energetic “Phoenix Up” is sure to get you moving with its Progressive melodies. “Special Move” Is another Progressive Electro heavy tune that really adds a sense of wonder during the quieter sections. It calls to mind a starry night even. Following this track up is “Something About You,” which will have you thinking deep if you get lost in it enough.
But if there was one song that had me coming back for more, it was “Fragile Human.” No Mana teamed up with his good friend EDDIE on this one. This isn’t their first rodeo, and they more than knocked it out of the park on this one. This track is full of melancholy magic. The driving melody, those powerful synths and that beautiful vocal…pure bliss. This is easily my favorite song from the album, and also one of the best songs I’ve heard this year so far. Simply for how lost in thought I became to this song. It’ll make you think of how we really are fragile creatures. Both physically and emotionally. Last but not least, “VVVR” closes out the album with some very unique sounds. I found myself replaying this one a lot, merely due to the addictive echoing bass throughout the track.
After listening to this album extensively over time, I’m confident in saying that it indeed holds up well after multiple listens. It doesn’t get stale at all, and even the less appealing tracks are worth a listen every once in a while. Overall, this album is a very welcome addition to the vast plethora of impressive work No Mana has put out over the years. The main thing I’m proud of No Mana for is never changing his sound or style to keep up with the times. His signature sound is alive and well, and we can’t wait to hear where that takes us next.
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