Independent record label Mello Music Group released two collaborative EPs in January called ‘Mandala Vol. 1 & 2.’ Here, we review the offerings in 200 words to let you know whether they’re worthy of hogging space on your Spotify or iTunes library.
Mandala Vol. 1, Polysonic Flows
Considering the industriousness of blue collar rap label Mello Music Group, it’s no surprise that the artists involved dive head-first into Mandala Vol. 1, Polysonic Flows. Boasting a host of in-house and affiliated talent, the first of two early-2014 compilation albums moves through its rotating sounds with relative coherence – from Oddisee’s gorgeously atmospheric opener “Invisible Walls” to the posse-cut boom-bap of “Supreme Codeine.” With these compilation affairs, you’re looking for certain artists to stand out in a crowd, but the artists showcased here are content to play it safe rather than stake a claim for some attention of their own.
Standout Songs: “Invisible Walls,” “Family Room,” “Going Swell”
Songs to Skip: “Juggernaut”
Mandala Vol. 2, Today’s Mathematics
Mandala Vol. 2 carries over some of Vol. 1‘s early-aughts east coast influences with some decidedly grimy takes on the soul sample-heavy sound, but it also features a few more singular moments. On “Juk,” Rapper Big Pooh proclaims that he “ain’t tryna make the people dance,” but one of the collection’s best tracks is “Up,” an electronic-tinged R&B song that features underground favorite Muhsinah. In releasing two albums spanning some 36 tracks, Mello Music Group chose the exhaustive route where a more selective single-disc might have done the trick.
Standout Songs: “No Design to This,” “Up,” “Space Age Love”
Songs to Skip: “Keep It on the Hush,” “Stardust”