posted 2012-03-21 23:44:49

Colossal Mantis

Band of Hunter students create genre-bending music

Maria Hernandez

Contributing Writer

Colossal Mantis practicing their music. Photo by Sean Myrden.
Colossal Mantis: the name sounds like a villain straight out of a 50’s sci-fi flick. Rather, its the name of a new band from Hunter that combines samples, synths and live instruments with vocals and rapping that transcends genres in the name of good times. They have an ever-growing line-up of shows this semester, having kicked off March with performances at Sounds of Brazil in Soho and High 5 in Ridgewood. If you missed those shows, you don’t want to miss the next one.

Colossal Mantis is the band at the center of the larger Mantis Family, a collective of musicians from across the five boroughs and Long Island. The band is not fronted by anyone in particular, and instead maintains a strong collaborative energy.

Colossal Mantis is actually a combination of two bands of mostly Macaulay Hunter sophomores. Joey Vergara (bass) and Alejandro Salazar (drums) met in Brooklyn and played together in their band, Anachronista, for five years before meeting Desmond Tetrault (synth and keyboard) at Hunter. Tetrault, meanwhile, was enmeshed in his then-new project with Andreas Stavropolis (guitar). A great feat of musical alchemy ensued, and Colossal Mantis as known today was born. Additionally, Macaulay Honors junior Jamaine King is said to be rapping on some upcoming tracks with them, and their songs have been mixed by Hunter DJ, Nikko Dessereau.

The collective is not just Hunter students, however. They are New Yorkers that collaborate with a number of non- Hunter musicians from across the city. Sorcha Richardson, a Dublin-born New School student, provides vocals for numerous tracks. She is a singer and songwriter in her own right and has a number of songs online. Richardson appeared on Hunter radio last year with Tetrault to discuss the band. According to the interview, she met Tetrault at a zoo in the south of France, where in a bizarre occurrence, he had dropped his cellphone into a bear cage.

Faux Pas, a Queens-based duo made up of the rappers Cynic and Jamii Bass, have also appeared on tracks with Colossal Mantis. Their raps are lyrically smooth and witty, and spiked with a sardonic social commentary that manages to be thought-provoking while avoiding preachiness. All in all, the Mantis Family is a relatively young, promising collective.

According to Tetrault, before teaming up with members of Anachronista, the band first focused on making beats for rappers. However, as they continued playing together, the band realized they were developing more than just instrumentals. Mantis draws from a wide, eclectic array of sources, including jazz, hip hop, the Mars Volta, Ween, Radiohead, house, and a good dose of trip-hop. Their music is pensive, dynamic and also varied enough to make great study jams. Their track “Gun Powder” is an excellent coffee supplement.

There’s a stark difference between their live shows and online tracks. Luckily, its not due to the common problem of tracks translating poorly onto the stage. Listening to them on iTunes and dancing to them live just happens to be two different experiences. On the studio version of “Red Rum,” the first chords strike, and the song continues to accumulate instruments, speed, rhythm and intricacy for a nice, relaxed groove. The live performance of “Red Rum,” on the other hand, is a totally different song. Of course, it’s the same music, but these guys know what live instruments are for. They go on with inspired improvisation in a kind of feedback loop where they build off the crowd energy, have fun with the song, and amp up the crowd even more.

The band’s also solidifying a significant Internet presence. They can be found on Soundcloud, Tumblr and Facebook with a quick google search. They have nearly an album’s worth of tracks available for free download on their Bandcamp, and their fan base continues to grow.

As of yet, Colossal Mantis has not released any albums, but with the number of quality tracks they’ve produced thus far, they easily could release one in the near future. When asked if they intended to do so, they replied enigmatically, merely saying they’re thinking about it. These guys are just having fun, but in the hands of talented people, fun is contagious. Whatever your particular taste in music, if you like to dance and chill, they are a group to look out for. Their next show is scheduled for March 24 at Santos Party House.