Friday, November 03, 2006

Manning ~ Anser's Tree









I have posted this to Amazon, but as it may take a while to get put on there I wanted to include it here as I think it is so good it warrants as much exposure as possible.

One thing I did forget to mention was Ed Unitsky's gorgeous artwork. Always a joy to see Ed's artwork as it really adds another dimension to the listening experience. The work he has done for Guy and The Tangent is quite exceptional!

Barely a year since his last opus, Guy brings us another first class collection to revel in. Amazingly he has upped the ante yet again. “Anser’s Tree” is surely his most complex work yet, both musically and thematically. Seven songs linked genealogically, each concerning characters inhabiting certain periods of time over a 500 year period. Though the songs easily work in isolation, Guy’s ability to weave vivid tales has always been a trademark of his writing. Here he expands on simple storytelling by linking each character to portray how elements of the person we are can be traced back to our antecedents. The premise that there is a genetic flow through our family tree is a powerful concept, especially as I am presently looking at my own family tree. But Guy deals with even more than this as the track “Professor Adam Logan (2001-2094)” looks at the potential consequences of global warming. This is taken to a speculative conclusion on the final track “Dr. Jonathan Anser (2089-????)”, where the character strikes a solitary figure in the aftermath of the planets destruction, trying to find his roots to not only understand himself, but mankind.

Musically, Guy has dressed his powerful and engrossing narrative in some of his lushest and compulsive settings and arrangements yet. The opening “Margaret Montgomery (1581-????)” has a gorgeous folk tinged feel to it, with Stephen Dundon’s earthy flute really to the fore. Things get a bit more proggy on the next track, “Jack Roberts (1699-1734)” with lots of excellent Moog courtesy of Andy Tillison. The sax break by the ever excellent Laura Fowles really brings this piece to a fantastic conclusion. This may be my favourite piece on the album. “Joshua Logan (1990-2048)” is wonderfully exuberant with some nice mellotron washes and scintillating electric guitar playing from David Million. More mellotron strings are featured on the concluding track “Dr. Jonathan Anser (2089-????)” adding to the melancholy air of the protagonist’s final journey. Everything before has led to this moment and the album ends with a militaristic build up, the saxes squalling into the foreground before fading out into nothing! A powerful and emotive finale to what for me is an exceptionally thought provoking and highly distinctive album.

Over the course of eight studio albums, Guy Manning has developed a growing reputation for producing quality songwriting. He is also a more than able multi-instrumentalist. For me the last few albums have clearly shown someone at the top their game, producing work of a standard that is rarely equalled by most not just working in the prog genre but in rock music in general. “Anser’s Tree” may be his most significant musical statement yet. In fact I know it is!

1 Comments:

Blogger JMI_MZT said...

interesting and great review. Just found this blog. Looks wonderful. Keep up the good work.

6:42 PM  

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