Taking a break from Trans Am (and from his engineering career), Phil Manley
indulges his taste for ’70s German electro on his first solo album. But the
spacy synths of classic “kosmische musik,” featured on such tracks as the opening “FT2 Theme,” are
not the focus of Life Coach. This
all-instrumental (save for one track’s wordless warbling) set is actually a guitar
album. It emphasizes a crisply recorded Fender Telecaster, and also features a
Gibson steel-string acoustic.
While there are passages that rev up the motorik beat, most of the music is droning, rippling and looping — more Cluster than
Neu. The two longest pieces are both stately guitar showcases: “Work It
Out” weaves strands of feedback, while the nine-minute “Night
Visions” circles toward infinity like early Terry Riley and Philip Glass
(and their guitar-playing German disciple, Ash Ra Tempel’s Manuel Gottsching).
Conceived in part as a tribute to Connie Plank, the great German art-rock
producer, Life Coach sounds great.
And fans of burbling tones and rotating structures can happily file this album
somewhere between In C and the latest
Kompakt sampler. But these nine compositions sound like sketches or footings
for future work, not quite ready to stand on their own — or without their
DOWNLOAD: “Work It Out,”
“Night Visions” MARK JENKINS