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Attention Deficit - The Idiot King  CD (album) cover


Attention Deficit

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars At first I only thought that this was just another project of musicians being brought together by the Magna Carta label. Well, I think it really is. But this one goes way beyond the boring prog metal that Liquid Tension and all those guys play. This music is like anything else Ive ever heard before. This is true fusion! combining the classic fusion elements with metal and new age stuff and of course,progressive elements are taken into account also. Michael Manring I think is the Stanley Clarke of our time, playing the fretless bass in an unbelievable way. Alex Skolnik comes up with a lot of loud guitar and fast solos, which makes a cool contrast with Manring“s jazzy style. And what can I say about Herb, me being a Primus fan!!! Herb“s just awesome, but anyways, this is great experimental music recommended for everyone who enjoys wierd and dark stuff.
Report this review (#25861)
Posted Thursday, January 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars great stuff. nuff said.

well, not really. in the liner notes, it says that there are no synthesizers, understandably so. skolnick's guitar playing is amazing, and at points sounds like a synthesizer or keyboard, hence the liner notes. michael manring's humongous tone is always pleasing to hear, too. and, tim alexander's drumming is very complex and exciting. the only song on the CD i sometimes skip is "the killers are to blame" it's just alexander pummeling his bass drums with some background music. not too entertaining all the time. i'd like to give it 5 stars, but i wouldn't say it is essential.

Report this review (#35416)
Posted Monday, June 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In their sophomore effort "The Idiot King", Attention Deficit created a more elaborated repertoire than the one comprised in their debut album, which was mostly devoted to the articulation and expansion of various jams. Since there's a major dose of creativity in the writing process, the variety in the musical ideas and rhythmic variations has allowed the trio to generate a more focused power within the stylistic confines inherent to its trio format. Jamming, there is much of it here, too, but generally speaking, this is a more composed album. The shocking aspect of the first album may seem a bit less impressive because "The Idiot King" bears a less urgent feel, but as I said earlier, the energy is not diminished but refurbished in a more focused fashion. 'American Jingo' starts with a ¾ motif in which playfulness and tension state a sense of aggressiveness, latent most of the time. 'Any Unforeseen Event' finds the band exploring more relaxing ambiences, under what I feel is the elegant facet of classic Holdsworth. Since it lasts only 3 minutes, I believe it is too short to properly explore its full potential. A special mention goes to Manring's amazing bass lines stuck somewhere in the middle-. The Holdsworth reference becomes more explicit in 'RSVP' (a personal highlight from this album) and 'Dubya', pieces that go headlong for the dense side of your typical jazz-rock power trio sound, even forming adequate expansions. Things turn closer to the funky side of things with 'The Risk of Failure', a piece that includes certain Crimsonian trends, especially in some phrases by Skolnick: drummer Tim Alexander shines here with particular brilliancy. A second portion finds the band moving to jazzier structures, with Skolnick showing off his skills and melodic sensibility equally. 'Unclear, Inarticulate Things' is one definitive showcase for Manring's proficiency: Michael uses his prowess to state a precise rhythmic cadence and a solid set of skilful phrases, forcing Skolnick to indulge in some guitar pyrotechnics. The use of mutual challenging in a power trio context is creatively convenient when you have musicians totally committed to each other as these three are. 'The Killers Are to Blame' is the sickest piece in the album, with those combined guitar and bass soundscapes flowing as reckless purveyors of tension, while Alexander goes on forging and recreating the track's rhythmic structure with his fantastic rolls: disturbing and captivating, here is another highlight. Tension remains, reconsidered under a metallic view, in the exciting 'Nightmare on 48th St.', an ominous exercise on electric wildness that shows a mixture of classic Primus, 90s KC and LTE. All in all, Attention Deficit did a similar thing than Bozzio Levin Stevens: after a first album based on the urgency of initial mutual approximations, a second album came afterwards with a more focused attitude while preserving much of the previous fire. "The Idiot King" is an excellent testament of Skolnick, Manring and Alexander as a well- oiled unit of avant-garde jazz-rock. Thank you, guys!!
Report this review (#182685)
Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars THE IDIOT KING is the perfect prove when 3 high caliber musiciancscollide and they have the feeling of the electricity passing through each personality to complete one together with the other!After a first try in a more experimental way,ATTENTION DEFFICIT strike back with an album superior to the precedent under all aspects!Better structured songs,so a better composition,better sound-in fact a monster sound of the recording-and great,huge technical skills!I was shocked at the time to realise the major difference from the first ,debut album compared to this new one!Shocking is that ALEX SKOLNICK come from the Bay Area trash band TESTAMENT in which he is still involved today!At the time he was more preoccupied by fallowing new musical directions and he made some excellent solo albums with his band with metal standards,covers in a jazz style!This IDIOT KING cd has a genius cover with a nice dog with huge eyes,the pure imagine of innocence and kindness of an animal.The music inside is very dangerous.Some KING CRIMSON influences,especially at the drums and guitar level,and above all the mystical and captivating sound iof MICHAEL MANRING,a "deeply disturbed young muscian",at the time,how he was considered by a journalist!TIM ALEXANDER from PRIMUS at drums is a revelation,offering on this album the true dimension ofhis tremendeous talent!So,we have here ,on one album -3 influences from each musician regarding the background of where they come from -TRASH for SKOLNICK-free fusion from ALEXANDER and world jazz from MANRING!The final product is astonishing-dense in compostion,rich in performance and captivating in it's musical message!A magical meeting! 4,s STARS for something new and refreshing!
Report this review (#257206)
Posted Monday, December 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
4 stars The Risk of Failure, the Joy of Success.

Attention Deficit is an interesting trio of musicians. The combination of virtuoso acoustic guitarist Michael Hedges' bassist Michael Manring, ex-Primus drummer Tim Alexander, and Testament's guitarist Alex Skolnick, one would expect to find an interesting breed of funk/thrash metal. However, what one does find on this dynamic disk is a great blend of funk and fusion, for a superb collection of throbbing bass filled tracks. The album has countless dynamics, dipping into the metal range at times, flying into soaring heights of harmonic beauty at other times, and having an overall feeling of intense fun all the way through.

American Jingo opens the album with what will become a "norm" for this album. An immediate emphasis on the bass is heard, with a fantastic use of harmonics. A very strong sense of funk is immediately heard and is present throughout most of the album. Dissonant guitar licks and arhythmic drumming make for a rather unique sound as well. Overall, the song has a strong avant-garde tendency, with all-over-the-place breakdowns and atonal harmonies between the instruments. A peculiar track, and an interesting opener to the album.

Any Unforeseen Event is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The infectious use of fretless bass and pleasant use of guitar melodies make for an eargasmic experience. Between all members of the band there is a fantastic sense of communication, as each member weaves in and out of solos and backings and rhythms and fantastic melodies. Between each solo and section, there are flawless transitions, exemplifying these musicians great skill with their music.

The Risk of Failure is one of the more experimental tracks on the album, really showing a strong King Crimson influence. The guitar lines are heavy atonal and dissonant, and the harmonization between the bass and guitar solos are extremely atonal and avant-garde. Overall, the song is just plain odd. The breakdowns throughout the track are very mechanical and calculated, with precise rhythmic work and strong execution between parts. There is a great dissonance between the instruments, which really adds to the ambiance of the track. The guitar solo is fantastic, with a really nice funky break from the atonal track that introduced it. The song, however odd, does have some really great qualities and make it an exceptional track on the album.

Low Voter Turnout opens right up with a very thick and heavy use of slap funk bass. With a very odd use of harmony and melody, the song has strong similarities to the previous track. The guitar is very avant-garde and has a strong use of polyrhythmic technique. Again we see a strong communication between each instrument, again showing these guys' control over their instruments and their music. All throughout the song and especially during the guitar solo, Skolnick shows that is not just any thrash metal guitarist and can whip out some really interesting lines. Overall another very interesting track, adding some strong dynamic to this album.

Unclear: Inarticulate Things is one of the more steady, throbbing tracks on the album. With a very steady pulsing bass line, we can clearly see Manring's control of his instrument, and his domination of composition with it. Between him and the guitar, there are some fantastic harmonies, and some really cool compositional qualities. There is a really inventive use of avant-funk in this track, and really shows the creativity of this project.

RSVP opens with a really cool use of a fretless bass. There is a careful bondage between both the bass and the guitar to make some really nice melody lines. However, the song quickly breaks into a rocking fusion track. The spectacular jazzy breakdowns accent the track in a beautiful way, adding a great dynamic to the track. There is a really nice connection between the rhythms of the drums and the rhythms of the guitar, also. Throughout the song, there are strong metal uprisings, surging through the cool jazz feel with thrashy bits of fury. And, as quickly as those metal uprisings rose, they soon descend back to their cool jazz roots. Overall, this is a favorite of mine, with the strongest fusion sound found on the album.

My Fellow Astronauts is a bit more disappointing. It opens with another throbbing bass intro, with some more atonal distorted guitar playing. Although the track would be good on its own, it starts to seem a little repetitive compared to the rest of the tracks, which follow a similar formula. Although the soloing and overall insanity of the track is good, for some reason it seems a bit boring. Overall, however, the song is decent, just not nearly as good as the other songs.

Dubya opens with an odd dissonance between the guitars and bass. The song soon reveals itself to be pretty much just an expansive guitar solo. With some nice guitar chops, the song is nice, but doesn't have very much other than some nice guitar chops. It is a very chill and laid back track, and adds a nice dynamic to the album.

The Killers Are to Blame opens with an ambient intro. It transitions into ambient guitar and rhythmic backings. Overall, the songs stays pretty ambient for most of the song, with atmospheric guitar work and quite consistent drumming. Overall nothing special.

Nightmare on 48th Street is by far the most metal track on the album, with intense metal guitar soloing and strong drumming behind it. It has a very metallic ambiance to it, almost industrial or mechanical. Overall the riffing and licking and sweeping start to get a little scary, until the song just abruptly ends.

Public Speaking is Very Easy is the short avant ending to the album. Throwing in more thick heavy slap bass, it has the feeling of being wet and wobbly and just about to tip over into oblivion. Overall it has a strong similarity to some of the other tracks, and ends the album in a very peculiar way - Attention Deficit style.

ALBUM OVERALL: Attention Deficit is one of the more interesting bands in the modern fusion scene. Fusing just about every genre the musicians bring to the table, from new age to metal to funk to jazz to rock and so much more, they have an extremely unique sound. The album is full of strong dynamics and great avant qualities. However, the album also has its downsides. Many of the tracks are just downright weird. Being avant is one thing, but making a song that is just harsh and hard to listen to is another. Some of the songs can a bit repetitive with similar ideas, but the band is easily able to keep up with great ideas for an overall exceptional album. 4- stars.

Report this review (#427480)
Posted Monday, April 4, 2011 | Review Permalink

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