Words by Sean Moeller, Illustrations by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
You've probably seen that anti-smoking commercial on the television, where a man who sort of looks like a black-sheeped member of Billy Bob Thornton's family is crossing the street and then hoofing it on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette. He pulls it from his mouth, gives it a cross look and then stamps it out on the pavement only to find that the other hand - through some form of magicianship - is outfitted with another lighted cigarette. He goes to scratch an itch on his face or brush off a stray hair that had blown onto his cheek and he's attached to another stick of nicotine. There's no escaping the powers that the drug has on him. A similar scene could be played out with Many Mansions' Shane Donnelly, the tinkerer and composer for his Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, musical project. One can easily imagine him with a tendency to reach to his mouth, absentmindedly or with purpose, and finding himself popping another mushroom into it. One after another, the psychedelic mushrooms enter the mouth and slowly, but surely, everything gets confused, everything blurs into a sweeping wash of diseased dance music that makes legs, eyes, arms, crotches, hearts and ears feel drunk and stoned as hell. If it wasn't pleasant, we'd just pretend as if it didn't exist, but it is pleasant - damned pleasant, in fact - and it gets you thinking about the buckets and buckets of mushrooms that Donnelly seems to have to fall back on and we're wondering where that stash happens to be. We have our cash in hand and we'd like to slip him some code words, the password, the money, whatever it might take to join him, to get some of those drugs handed over.
The music that Donnelly makes seems to be all-inclusive. We hear in it as an invitation to join in the kind of party that will make your mind vaporize into a den of bobbing movements and involuntary motion. It's music that can and will make you feel as if you're losing control of things while becoming considerably more in control of vacationing craziness. It's not wild craziness, but a slow move toward a night that you'll wake up the following morning from, thinking that nothing at all went awry, when you begin to get phone calls and text messages from friends who were with you, asking how you're doing, all in an accusatory tone, with a rising inflection as if they know a considerable amount more than you can possibly remember. You did some stupid things and now you know that you did some stupid things. You hear particles of conversations that sound vaguely familiar and you find yourself asking for more details. Many Mansions music is the kind of sweet, fruity alcoholic drink that's deceptive. You drink two or three, tell yourself you're not feeling anything and then a half an hour later, after two or three more glasses, the high-proof of potent booze kicks in and you're entranced. Donnelly, the music maker, is deceptive - like those drinks -- with his beats and his melodies, all fitting a certain kind of Caribbean aesthetic and a rum punch taste, luring you in and letting the ease of the capture finally knock you on your ass. You pull yourself from the ground hours later, with a huge, sloppy grin pasted across your face.