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Michael Manring - Thonk CD (album) cover

THONK

Michael Manring

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.50 | 2 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Tapfret
Prog Reviewer
4 stars New rage for the new age?guy

Sub-genre: Jazz/Rock Fusion (this one his a lot of metal edge)
For Fans of: Brand X, Primus, Michael Hedges, Jaco Pastorius
Vocal Style: none
Guitar Style: Distorted rock to metal.
Keyboard Style: Piano on one track
Percussion Style: Rock kit, combo of styles for 2 session drummers.
Bass Style: Primarily fretless played both picked and two-handed tap. Extended range "Hyperbass" on which Manring plays very high pitched guitar solos.
Other Instruments: Bells and odd percussion
You are not likely to enjoy this album if: the trademark sound of a popped and slapped fretless bass just isn't your thing.

Summary: At the time of this album Michael Manring was known primarily for his "New age" work with Montreaux, Michael Hedges as well as his solo works. Thoṅk is a marked shift in Manring's musical direction; not only in this album, but in his simultaneous collaborations on projects like Attention Deficit and Spastic Ink. On Thoṅk, Manring teams up with an all-star cast of old friends and classmates from a plethora of musical backgrounds. Former Primus Drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander and ex-Journey turned jazz session percussionist Steve Smith provide the battery. Ex-Testament metal guitarist Alex Skolnick (also Attention Deficit band mate) and ex-Dregs ax man Steve Morse provide guitar work.
The album opens with a bang. The first thing I noticed looking through the liner notes was that the opener, Big Fungus had no guitarist, yet there was a distinct "guitar" sound carrying the main theme. Manring plays in extended range "Hyperbass" which can provide rather high notes. The rock elements to the opener, and others like Disturbed and Cruel and Unusual, were unexplored in Manring's previous releases. Throughout the album are little surprises like that. While the ensemble pieces are very full and bring a complete package of all the guest players' tools, the most impressive and memorable moments of the album come from Manring's solo bass. He is able to apply a tapping "stick" style that allows complete bass, rhythm and melody from a single instrument. Monkey Businessman is a ruckus solo work that fits the title. The high notes obtained from harmonics combined with the rhythmic bass shuffle are unmatched in complexity of groove. The albums closer is a very emotional complete solo bass work appropriately named The Enormous Room. Once again Manring uses harmonics with sailing fretless slides to create unmatched texture: a truly beautiful way to end the album.



Final Score: This is a top 100 album in my collection and it is a pleasure to finally have it here on Prog Archives. Thoṅk has something for nearly every progressive music fan. Not a masterpiece, but a hidden gem whose flaws only add to the character. One of the keystones to Jazz/Rock fusions crossover into metal. 4 stars.

Tapfret | 4/5 |

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