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Album Review
How Many Padmes Hum?

How Many Padmes Hum?
by Zen Mantra

Muzai Records

Review Date
12th December 2012
Reviewed by
Matthew Cattin

Om Mani Padme Hum - a Tibetan Buddhist mantra said to summon the blessings of Chenrezig, the epitome of compassion. It’s a phrase said to embody all the teachings of Buddha, but it is inexpressible in simple words.

How Many Padmes Hum? – an eclectic collection of faraway pop tunes released by Christchurch musician Sam Perry under the name Zen Mantra.

How Many Padmes Hum? succeeds largely in its simplicity - catchy melodies strung together over familiar chords. Guitar-pop track ‘Cloudgazer’ embodies this with an echoing mantra that slides off the tongue, “days go by and still you try to forget”. Female harmonies and a building structure give it enough variety to maintain momentum without becoming repetitive.

Appropriately titled opening track ‘Intro’ pulls you in to Perry’s dream world, vocals sighing like distant whales in an ocean of shimmering synth and clean guitar licks. It builds to an emotional crest before retreating quietly like the tide – a strong, relaxing introduction that sucks you into the album, clearing your mind before the journey begins.

Other songs seem to fixate on one melody line and don’t quite get off the ground such as ‘La La La La La’ which drones like a punk song turned pop, laced with attitude and gloom. The la-la’s follow on seamlessly to the following track ‘Soothsayer’, a minor melody supported by razor sharp guitar licks and solid bass. The boy-girl harmonies which soak the record are particularly well interlaced here, reminiscent of the classic Black-Deal partnership of The Pixies.

With How Many Padmes Hum?, Perry has produced an impressive set of songs, cohesive and creative. It’s refreshing when the content of a bedroom-produced LP can outshine commercial efforts – it’s just a pity the sound quality isn’t quite of the same standard as the song writing. With future releases it would be nice to hear every detail a bit crisper in the mix – it seems a waste to write great songs which don’t sound as good as they could – and should


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