MANIPULANT – Single Review: “What Good Are the Stars?”

Manipulant WGATS art

Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based artist Manipulant (aka David Speakman) is an imaginative and intensely creative multi-instrumentalist/composer of electronic music that he refers to as “scientific sound spaces.” He’s also prolific. In 2016, he released his debut album Méthode de Narration, and followed up a year later with the superb Eclectro, which I reviewed and you can read here.  He released a five-track EP Perspective earlier this year, and on July 4th, he dropped his latest work, an EP of sorts with the single “What Good Are the Stars?” as the main track, plus three remixes.

“What Good Are the Stars?” is mysterious and sublime, with a glittery soundscape of swirling synths that seem to float above the subtle bassline. A gentle hypnotic drumbeat  keeps the languid pace, and a delicate but haunting repeating piano riff adds a sense of unease to the mesmerizing track. Manipulant’s smooth, echoed vocals have an otherworldly feel as he sings the lyrics that question his inability to be with a loved one:

What good are the stars?
What good is the sky?
What good is the moon?
What use are these eyes if they can’t see you?

What good are the clouds?
What good is the rain?
If it’s not allowed to wash away pain
What good are the stars?
When they don’t know where you are?

What good are the clouds?
What good is the rain?
If it’s not allowed to wash away pain
What good are the stars?

Next up is the “Beltism Burnt Umber Mix,” which opens with an echoed and grainy background beat overlying the same hypnotic drumbeat and piano riff as in the main track. The synths are not as pronounced on this mix, though they’re a bit more psychedelic, and the bass is somewhat deeper. Nevertheless, this remix is still haunting and mesmerizing.

Each track seamlessly transitions into the next, and the third one is “Alternative Vocal Mix featuring Jennifer Doll.” It’s essentially the synth-heavy main track with added vocals by guest artist Jennifer Doll. Her soft, ethereal vocals take a starring role, harmonizing beautifully with Manipulant’s faintly audible background vocals. The final track is “Anisotropic Mix,” a trippier, bass-heavy remix with eerie-sounding synths that impart an almost sci-fi vibe. All four tracks are pretty terrific.

To learn more about Manipulant, check out his Website
Connect with him on: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream:  Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase on: iTunes Bandcamp

5 thoughts on “MANIPULANT – Single Review: “What Good Are the Stars?”

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