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Country of origin:


Type of music generally:

Ethereal alternative pop ectronica


Band has broken up. Final release, Solace (compilation, 2001)

See also:

Wikipedia's entry on Mandalay

The War Against Silence's review of Solace

Nicola Hitchcock's site

The Ectophiles' Guide entry for Nicola Hitchcock's solo work


More ethereal and more trip hop than Dido, softer and more ethereal than lamb, dreamier than frou frou

Covers/own material:


General comments:

Their sound is very gentle trip hop, mellow and lovely. Nicola Hitchcock has a soft, dreamy, pretty voice. Their first album with Guy Sigsworth is definitely the better than the second, without him. The first album got immediately caught in my head, and I attribute that to the songwriting and the Sigsworth contribution, because otherwise it's hard to pinpoint the difference between the two albums—the songs in Empathy are just are more distinctive to my ears than those in Instinct. Rather than mood pieces, the songs are catchy to me—there's something more interesting going on with them. I do think the compilation isn't particularly well done. (Neile)

I've only heard Solace, their new album, but I'm *really* into it. This is what I wanted Portishead and Dido to sound like. (

It's a strange cross between lamb and Morcheeba, with the vocal skills of Kristy Thirsk mixed in. (

Mandaly are Nicola Hitchcock and Saul Freeman with Guy Sigsworth and Steve Jansen. Great trip-hoppy music with beautiful vocals and spheric synths. I absolutely love Empathy (featuring Steve Jansen on drums), but I was a bit disappointed with Instinct. The second album has some great tunes and some weaker ones, but it's not as homogenic as Empathy. Thanks for mentioning Mandalay because I didn't listen to them for a long time. Time to put them into my CD player again. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

Recommended first album:

empathy definitely, but Solace may be all you can find



Release info:

1998—V2 Music—VVR1001292



Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for pop and trip hop fans

Group members:

Nicola Hitchcockk—vocals
Saul Freeman—sampler, guitars, piano, bass, synth, treatments

Guest artists:

Guy Sigsworth—Rhodes, sampler, synth, Wurlitzer, piano (appears on all tracks)
Jim Carmichael—drums on 2 tracks
John Hassell—trumpet on 3 tracks
Steve Jansen—drums, percussion on 5 tracks
David Waters—tenor voice on 1 track
Jack van der Bent—baritone voice on 1 track
Michael Abe—live dub fx, tape edits on 1 track
Danny Thompson—bowed harmonics on 1 track

Produced by:

Mandalay and Guy Sigsworth


I only have their first UK album, Empathy. I must admit I only like about half of Empathy, but "All My Sins," the one song I absolutely adore from that album, apparently didn't make it on to Solace. So, I would recommend Empathy just for that one song. Every time I hear it, I think it sounds like what Tori Amos would record if she were a trip-hop/electronica artist. (

Another ectronica disc, but this is more mellow than most in that area. Really lovely vocals and good songwriting. For me it was definitely worth paying the price to import it. We have been enjoying it for years: this one just works for me. (Neile)


Release info:

2000—V2 music—VVR1012398



Ecto priority:

Recommended if you like empathy

Group members:

Saul Freeman, Nicola Hitchcock

Guest artists:

Jon Hassell—trumpet on 2 tracks

Produced by:

Mandalay and Michael Ade


Instinct is a mixture of some excellent and some rather meaningless songs. It doesn't have the genius of their debut album Empathy (featuring Steve Jansen who doesn't appear on Instinct). The first song is followed by three more or less boring tunes. Just when I started to get disappointed, the 5th track made me change my mind. An uneven rhythm, the instrumentation is reduced to a minimum, and Nicola's high and whispering voice and the vocoder voice causes me goosebumps. The following tracks can hold the standard, a mixture of breakbeats, interesting sounds and samples and a haunting voice. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

I loved Mandalay's empathy, which seemed to me a lovely gentle pop twist on ethereal music and trip hop. But this has gone just a little too gentle and a little too pop for me. It's amazing how when you go in that direction there isn't much to distinguish this from the pop-ized rhythm and blues that dominates MTV and all. No Guy Sigsworth on this album—maybe that's what made the difference with the first. Only a couple of songs seem to me to get beyond the surface prettiness and approach the depths of the empathy: "simple things" and "what if i". (Neile)


Release info:



Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended if you can't find empathy

Group members:

Nicola Hitchcock, Saul Freeman

Guest artists:

Jon Hassell—trumpet
Isobel Griffiths—conductor
Gavyn Wright—orchestra leader
Alex Reece—remixing
Luke Vibert—remixing
Cevin Fisher—remixing
Joe Carrano—keyboards
Victor Calderone—remix producer
Yoad Nevo—programming

Produced by:

Guy Sigsworth, Saul Freeman, Michael J. Ade, Mandalay


Solace is a compilation of tracks from empathy and instinct

Mandalay kinda bores me, but I figure it might be because I have their U.S. release, which from what I have been told is a compilation of songs from their first two releases, and a bad compilation at that. For me, it's great as background sounds, but nothing is very memorable. I loaned it out to a friend of mine and I don't miss it. (

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2018-09-28 23:13:10.
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