If you could put together a supergroup, a sampling of some of the most talented, innovative and ambitious artists Beirut has to offer, you’d get this: Mother Mantra. Situated somewhere between the virulent edginess of 90s Grunge rock and the gentle pop undertones of contemporary indie-alternative music, Mother Mantra – the newest band on Lebanon’s underground scene - is poised to become a local favorite. It is a band that will no doubt come to define what the local music scene continues to become: a little bit dirty, a little bit experimental, and a whole lot of fun.

Founder, songwriter and lead guitarist Karim Beidoun, owner of Guerrilla Music, a recording studio in Beirut, is stepping out from behind the scenes to lend his musical prowess to this exciting new project. Alongside Beidoun is veteran Lazzy Lung frontman and guitarist Allan Charraoui, who performs on drums for Mother Mantra. Sara Barrage, who previously lent her vocal talents to Zeid Hamdan’s Zeid and the Wings, now stands in the spotlight on lead vocals. And the much-sought-after bassist, Faysal Itani, who most recently worked with the Wanton Bishops, rounds off the band’s impressive roster of artists.



“There’s Allan’s dynamic energy, Faysal has written some amazing, amazing, bass lines, and then there’s Sara’s voice, which is beautiful and just perfect for us, for what we are and what we represent,” Beidoun tells Beirut.com of the band’s dynamic.

There's something about Barrage's voice, coupled with Beidoun's punk-metal inspired strums (the riffs on Machetes & Guns - no words) that transports you to the early 90's at the heart of Seattle's Grunge movement. Indeed, Sara's aural aesthetic brings together the sub-pop softness of Nina Gordon from Veruca Salt and the firm, unshakable presence of Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kills with the controlled rage of Tracy Bonham, a singer best known for the one-time popular mid-nineties anthem, Mother Mother, a coincidental but nonetheless significant eponym for Mother Mantra.

At the heart of this band's music is a digestible pop core flanked by solid songwriting and a beautifully crafted sound that alternates between purring peaks and fiery intensity. Just listen to the first six seconds of ‘I’m OK,’ which starts off with a deep scream before easing into the delicate, yet haunting lyrics: "I see monsters."

What makes Mother Mantra unique is the band's toned down, less adrenaline-fueled sound which protests the flashy aesthetic of its contemporaries. As Beidoun says, “the music we’ve made is listening music. It’s not something that you’d hear once and automatically like. It’s the type of song you’ll listen to a couple of times before you really get into it.”

It's unsurprising that the backdrop of decades of political, social and economic turmoil in Lebanon would serve as the stimulus for much of this intense, angst-filled music. In many ways, for Beidoun, the process of creating the album represents a deeply personal carthasis. “The songs explore our inner struggles, our demons – anyone’s really. They reflect the struggles of addiction and mortality, and not just drug addiction, but any addiction – whatever it may be that you have a dependency on,” explains Beidoun, “but it’s about taking that negative and turning it into something positive; something beautiful through music.” For instance, the song Dissent could be considered a poignant commentary on the Arab Spring or the self-destructive consequences of harboring an excessive ego. My Lunar Eclipse recounts the experience of an obsessive stalker, yet anyone could easily relate to the pains of unrequited love.

Mother Mantra will make its Beirut debut at The Garten this Saturday, August 30. Be there, it’s going to be the start of something really special. And to learn more about the band, check them out on Facebook and YouTube.

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