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Michael Manring - Soliloquy CD (album) cover

SOLILOQUY

Michael Manring

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.65 | 3 ratings

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SaltyJon
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After his earliest albums being mostly new age and his previous two albums standing firmly in the jazz/rock fusion field, this album is Manring's take on a solo bass album. Just one man and his bass(es), no overdubs, and a lot of basswork which makes your jaw drop and your practicing arms go limp. On the album, Michael uses no less than five basses, including the incredible Hyperbass - a 4-string bass with a 3-octave fretless neck and D-tuner pegs on every tuning peg, plus a specially designed bridge allowing him to change the tuning in other ways. Michael had the bass designed after realizing how often he changed his tuning during concerts, often many times within the same song. The extended liner notes for the album list at least 43 different tunings used over the course of the album. He doesn't like to stick with one, that's for sure.

Some people may think that a solo bass outing could get boring or repetitive. I've thought that over the years as well, but after listening to this one I've been assured that some people know how to keep the music changing throughout. With his wide variety of basses, tunings, and styles, Manring keeps a constant flow of new sounds coming out of the stereo. Sometimes he plays prepared bass, similar to the prepared piano used in some contemporary classical music. Some tracks (such as the opener and the second track) are on the funky side of things, some (Solipsism, for example) are more avant-garde, and some are melodic and beautiful (I Left America, and later Selene). All of that is covered in the first four tracks, and we see more of these styles and some new ones as the album goes on.

Michael is one of, if not THE most talented bassist on the scene right now. Having studied with Jaco Pastorius and honed his talents over the past 20+ years (his first solo recording was released in 1986, and he played with others before that) in a variety of styles (from his own new age and jazz rock/fusion releases to the group Attention Deficit to guest appearances with such groups as Spastic Ink), I'm sure there's nothing he can't play at this point. He makes great use of the tuning changes present throughout, not to mention his control of any and all harmonics possible. Having seen videos of his performances over the years, it's clear that he enjoys playing bass in general, and his liner notes for this album state that playing solo is his favorite way to go. It really shows here, as he really gets to explore all the possibilities of his basses over the course of 52 minutes. You may not be surprised to hear this, but I'd recommend the album only to those of you who are infatuated with the bass guitar. It's really a great work, and I think it sets a high mark for any aspiring solo bassist looking to make a technically brilliant, yet still emotionally moving and interesting album. Three stars for this album from me - if we were on a forum specifically dedicated to bass and bassists, it would probably be five, but as it is I feel I would be stretching it a bit too much if I gave it even four here.

SaltyJon | 3/5 |

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