When I first started our SoundCloud page about two and a half years ago, Jim Manser’s psychedelic music repost page was one of the first pages I found and followed as I poked around figuring things out. It helped me get a quick lay of the land and find many artists I enjoyed right away. It was a place to plug in and start listening to someone’s curated list of personal favorites, and from someone who is a prolific creator as well, so it seemed to mean something to him. In fact, that was one of the initial things that drew me toward Jim, was that he obviously cared a lot about and was an avid supporter of the music he liked, And it seemed he was a fan of what we were doing too, which was great. I found so many artists I was interested in from perusing his repost page, it’s feels like a weird thing to want to thank someone for, but I thank him for doing it. For supporting all these other artists, for spreading the psychedelic sauce, like a gooey strawberry jam filling up my ear holes and dripping down my neck.
Beyond his capacity as an avid supporter, listener and tastemaker, Jim is a prolific songwriter. His music runs the gamut from jangly new wave inspired rock that sounds like it came straight from the late 80’s to otherworldly psychedelic pop music, immediately British but with flavors of Moroccan and African music sprinkled into the mix. I often hear flavors of ENO’s early solo work, the jangly guitars immediately reminiscent of Manzanera, while the layers of keyboards and synthesizers combined with the oft-doubled vocals sound like they’d feel quite comfortable on side two of Taking Tiger Mountain. All of these influences can often be heard in the course of a single song.
He draws on many wide spanning influences, as a lifetime of ingesting music will do to you, it at once is reminiscent of early The Who, Bowie, Pink Floyd – these influences were not hard to pick out. When I asked him about who he felt were his influencers he easily rattled off this list, adding that he was also inspired by the German post-rock bands like Can and Neu. He also added that lately he listens to a lot of Bjork and Kate Bush. It’s not difficult to pick out his listening tastes from his own music, but there is a definite twist he gives to everything that keeps it unique and fresh. His account on SoundCloud is a regular stop for me, at least once a month I check in on what he has been working on and it seems I am always rewarded with a sparkling gem for doing so.
I asked him a few questions about what sorts of equipment he uses, he has a few covetable hardware synths he uses a lot – several Korg micro synths, a few Rolands, even a Kaoss pad he uses from time to time. He has a pile of guitars – acoustic and electric – including a Gibson Black Beauty he is pretty fond of. He records into a Boss BR800 touch screen mixing desk, stepping through an Alto live 24 channel mixer and finally mixed in Ableton 10 and mastered with Izotope’s Ozone. He’s also currently experimenting with various ways he can produce on the go using an iPad.
His writing process is pretty varied, but he says ideas come to him often from dreams and the subconscious mind, something he recognizes as a driving “mystic force” that compels him to write. Having been at this a long time, Jim has found a positive, spiritual, global community of supporters who have stuck with him for the journey. Jim makes music self-sufficiently, recording everything himself, mastering himself, and sticking his music out there through digital distribution that he pays for himself. He sometimes breaks even on it, but it’s not a lot of money to put out to begin with and it’s all worth it when it reaches the right people who appreciate it. He does this as a “hobby” so to speak, but essentially, it’s just woven into his fabric and having other people listening is just something he sees as a bonus layer.
Like many home studio musicians these days, he doesn’t play out much, though it is still probably more than what many do. He has been in bands since he was 14, and it has just become part of what he does, part of his being. He hardly works with a typical band format any more, the tedium of regular life has become so overwhelming and impossible for most people these days, that a band is just a difficult thing to manage to work into a schedule. Managing expectations of band members can be a pretty rough road, thus why so many musicians work on their own these days. It’s just easier to get things done and keep being productive. Especially knowing there isn’t a magical leprechaun leading every hard-working band to a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and that’s not pessimism speaking, that’s just experience. You either love what you do or you don’t, and Jim is somebody whose passion for creating has sustained him for a long time and kept him producing one way or another.
It is our sincere hope that he has many, many more years of fantastically creative output ahead of him for us all to enjoy. In the meantime, you can check out some more of his material and show him some support by visiting the links below.
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/mysticmanse