Mandy, Indiana : I’ve Seen A Way

The UK experimental post-punk/dance/noise band Mandy, Indiana is the sound of sexy androids building more sexy androids in a cave that doubles as a rave. Robotic rhythms seem to emerge from grinding machines and screeching gears, while the vocals are less a voice singing than another rhythm instrument. It’s grinding, industrial noise for the dance floor. A dark imagining of Cocteau Twins, Skinny Puppy, and Wire in one strange, seductive sound.

Mandy, Indiana came together thanks to UK musicians Valentine Caulfield and Scott Fair meeting at a gig they were both playing in separate bands. Caulfield’s vocals sung in French mesmerized Fair and he realized he needed to work with her. Adding Simon Catling (synth) and Alex MacDougall (drums), Mandy, Indiana was born.

On the band’s debut I’ve Seen A Way Mandy, Indiana establish a sound quite unlike anything heard before. While the sound is post-punk/industrial-adjacent, it’s not one easily pinned down. It’s dance music on the cusp of self-immolation. Grooves for the end times.

The sound of I’ve Seen A Way is as important as the songs themselves. Recorded in various locations for their own, unique sonic effects, the record echoes and bellows at times from some endless depth. Drums recorded in caves, vocals screamed in Bristol shopping malls all come together to make this record sound both synthetic and organic.

“Love Theme(4K VHS)” opens with wavering synth and ambient sounds, a touch of the grand and melancholy. It’s longing is surprising, especially given what’s next. “Drag(Crashed)” has a sharp dance beat like early Ministry with foreboding electronics and Caulfield’s vocals that sound like they’re coming out of speakers in a subway terminal. It’s not about what she’s saying(it’s in French), but it’s how she says it. The voice here is visceral and part of the machinery. It’s disquieting and hypnotic. “Pinking Shears” has a junkyard rhythm and almost rap-like vocals. Wheezing noises gives it all an industrial tinge.

Overall this is an album about rhythm and groove. It pushes you to move with it. The overall sonic world here is built behind robotic percussion and Caulfield’s playful and intimidating voice. It tows that line where industrial music of the 80s started morphing into something more digestible to the masses. It’s like these kiddos listened to New Order, Art of Noise, Cocteau Twins and Ministry and said “Why can’t we be them all?”. Well, they succeeded.

Even if you can’t appreciate the nuts and bolts that went in to create this chaotic and cryptic album called I’ve Seen A Way, you can appreciate Mandy, Indiana’s dance floor grooves and nod to experimental noise all coming together in precision motion. It’s a stunning listen.

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