MANIK - Armies of the Night

  • Share
  • In cribbing the title of his debut album from one of The Warriors' keynote speeches—not to mention bookending the intro and outro tracks with further samples from the film—25 year-old New Yorker MANIK makes his debt to Walter Hill's 1979 opus abundantly clear. Beyond that, though, you'd be hard-pressed to spot any other obvious connections to the move. For while the New York envisioned by Hill was one full of wildly colourful gangs, the majority of Armies of the Night comes garbed in the same uniform of deep synths and bubbling bass. And where The Warriors had to battle across hostile territory, here MANIK rarely ventures beyond his comfort zone. Equally difficult to detect are any traces of MANIK's hip-hop roots, the raw rap sounds of Mobb Deep and DJ Premier that surrounded him growing up in Queens, and which he has been namechecking ever since his first singles on Culprit and Ovum. Apart from the crunching beat of "My Hood" that opens the album or the soulful R&B cut-ups of "Another Day," his teenage love of beats and rhymes are now all but overwhelmed by his adult ardour for 4/4. Still, although Armies of the Night might be "just" a straightforward house album—rather than anything more dazzlingly diverse or particularly cinematic—it's undeniably a very good one. As with any album that stretches itself well over the hour mark there's the odd dud and dull stretch—the filtered disco track "Nightfall" is disappointingly mediocre and the final few tracks occasionally get stuck in the doldrums—but overall MANIK proves himself adept at the languid house sound beloved of his feted contemporaries like Soul Clap and Wolf + Lamb. "Need Your Lovin'" is a slow-burning groove peppered with the aching vocal samples that crop up throughout the album, and that warm nocturnal mood is maintained even when the beats pick up to great effect on "Don't Stop Don't Run." MANIK's basslines are a particular joy—especially on the elasticated "She's Slow Motion" or "Streets Are Deep"—and he also looks beyond the Big Apple for the old-school Detroit techno flavours of "Ruckus 80H8," while you can well imagine "Kent Avenue" coming out on 2020Vision circa 1999. Unlike the film that inspired it, Armies of the Night probably won't be a cult classic in 30 years time, but nor will it look like a dated period piece either.
  • Tracklist
      01. My Hood – Armies Of The Night (Intro) 02. Need Your Lovin 03. Nightfall 04. City Kids 05. Pipedreams – The Lost Mixtape Skit 06. Don’t Stop Don’t Run 07. She’s Slow Motion 08. Ruckus 8OH8 09. Haterville – The Message (Interlude Skit) 10. Lose My Mind (Album Edit) 11. Streets Are Deep 12. DeLorean Soho 13. Kent Ave 14. Another Day 15. Queensboro 16. We're From Coney 17. The Way Home (Outro)