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Damanek - In Flight CD (album) cover

IN FLIGHT

Damanek

Crossover Prog


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FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I only just got to know about Damanek and Guy Manning a couple of months ago. I was checking out bands that Marek Arnold (keyboards and saxophone) played in because he's been in a lot, including Seven Steps to the Green Door, Toxic Smile, Flaming Row, and Cyril to name but a few. I was excited to discover that Damanek also included Sean Timms (keyboards) whom I knew of from Southern Empire and also the defunct Unitopia. Who was Guy Manning (vocals, keyboards, bouzouki, mandolin, acoustic guitars, etc.)? As it turned out, he has quite the curriculum vitae himself, having recorded a dozen or so solo albums under the name Manning and as well having been in The Tangent and 90 degrees or Parallel. I didn't know anything about bassist Dan Mash, but if this band isn't as good as a supergroup by members, then it most certainly is by musical quality.

After falling totally in love with the debut "On Track" (and picking up a couple of Manning albums as well), I was excited to hear that a second album was due out by early autumn. I had no doubt that it would be a first class piece of work as the same line-up was to appear once more.

"In Flight" does everything to live up to the musical prowess of the debut. These four extremely talented and well- experienced men concoct a type of progressive music that does not come across as contrived or forced ("We're a prog band so we're going to astound you with our speedy playing in odd time signatures and frequently change tempo and rhythm!"). Each track feels created for the purpose of the song with the music complementing the lyrics and vocals. But this is not just mature and intelligent pop music. You can still expect the unexpected!

Take for example the almost gospel sway and groove in "Skyboat" or the how the suspenseful "The Crawler" abruptly becomes one of the year's most catchy, melodic tunes with the chorus. This track also showcases the talents of all the musicians with organ, saxophone, and guitar solos done in a very relaxed and almost lounge style. Marek Arnold plays in swing and lounge jazz bands, so his sax chops smoothly fit in with the music here.

There's a fair bit of easy listening prog on this album but by no means light-weight prog. "Moon Catcher" makes a terrific lullaby, and parts of the three-part "Big Eastern" can also soothe and relax. But there are enough upbeat moments to keep you from drifting away in your armchair. "The Crossing" is as close to a rocker as these lads will take you without straying into any typical rock and roll. And the song has its own surprise with a laid back blues guitar-like solo and violin and sax solos to follow. There's a complement of guests with some electric guitar players to deliver a bit of bite and crunch for effect when needed as well as some sweet solos and accents.

The final three tracks which comprise the epic piece "Big Eastern" are indeed a cornucopia of fabulous music and yet more unexpected delights. There is a strong Oriental theme that often crops up at times, and I absolutely adore hearing the Chinese-sounding music because I enjoy a lot of the music from the first three albums of China's international sensation, The Twelve Girls Band, who play traditional and modern compositions on traditional Chinese instruments. Oh, man, that part around 4:00 in part 1 "Cruel Skies" is just so sweet to hear! That surely must be Sean Timms influence in places when a world music theme takes over for a spell. A spell to captivate and delight! The "So get on your knees" part near the end of part two will have up want to get up on your feet and dance! When it was clear that the final part was reaching its finale, I felt disappointed because this beautiful, incredible, and marvelous album had come to an end. Just one more track, please!

I could go on about how much I love Damanek and their two albums and how great this one is. It's funny because as of late I'm really into extreme metal and yet this album just totally sweeps me off my feet. How could I give it anything less than a perfect score?!

Report this review (#2039803)
Posted Sunday, September 30, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars I get the impression that Guy Manning is beginning to get the wider recognition he deserves. I started following his music from his early days in The Tangent and was always surprised that his extensive albums as Manning are not better known despite being so well received by those who have discovered them. In Flight is Damanek's second release after last year's excellent On Track. This is another fine album which concludes with a 30 minute suite in three parts called Big Eastern which, for me, is the highlight of the album. The first part, Cruel Skies, has beautiful oriental influences followed by the more up-tempo The Shaking Earth. This appears to have a middle-eastern style and builds and rebuilds with a compelling rhythm that makes this the best track on the album for me. The final part is A Life In Chinatown, a concluding celebration and a fine end to the album. The suite is preceded by five fine tracks, all noteworthy songs and the whole album is beautifully performed by excellent musicians. Last year I reluctantly rounded-down On Track to four stars but this one definitely deserves five stars.
Report this review (#2054704)
Posted Saturday, November 10, 2018 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
5 stars I'm not sure how long I have been reviewing music from Guy Manning (lead vocals, multi-instrumentalist), and his multiple bands and projects, but let's say twenty years and leave it at that. I am hard pressed to think of a single album he has been involved in for which I have provided a poor review, and I am certainly not going to start now with the second album from Damanek. Over the last few years I have also become quite involved with Marek Arnold (sax and SeaBoard) and have been fortunate to hear many of the albums he has been involved with. He is also responsible for the song I have probably played most in 2018, "Stay" from The Artwork Project. The other musicians in the band are Dan Marsh (bass, Maschine) and Sean Timms (keyboards, guitar, Unitopia), plus quite a few guests

Looking at the PA charts for 2018, I can see that this album is currently in the Top Ten, and I am more than a little surprised that it's not closer to the top slot, as this is progressive rock at it's very finest. Guy will always sound similar to Ian Anderson or Roy Harper, but neither of them had a band sounding as powerful as this. This is bombastic over the top symphonic progressive rock, with all those words being delivered in spades. Complex, complicated, with nuances here and there (such as a gently strummed acoustic, or additional percussion), it may be the electric guitar taking the lead, or Marek taking control with a saxophone in the way only he can within this style of music, while Guy strides across it all. Although the music is deep and dark, it is also immediately accessible, with hidden layers awaiting discovery which only start to make themselves known after the third or fourth time of playing.

Some people have referred to Damanek as a "supergroup", and certainly on the basis of this they are indeed a super group, with a super album. It even contains a three-part epic which is thirty minutes in length, who could wish for more? This is a stunning release, and one that should be on everyone's Christmas lists if they don't already own it.

Report this review (#2077250)
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review # 102. The 2nd studio album of the English band Damanek was a very pleasant surprise to me. I had no idea about this band until I discovered this wonderful album.

The "moving force" behind the band is Guy Manning, a very talented multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer, who has participated in a number of bands and projects. There are many musicians participating here, further than the band members, playing a rather good variety of instruments, including, sax, mandolin, bouzouki, and violin. Also, there is a choir in a couple of tracks. The style of the album is a rather rhythmic and uplifting Prog Rock with many Jazz elements in it. Although Jazz is not a music that I like, the way that these guys are mixing Prog with Jazz is very interesting and definitely enjoyable for the listener.

Almost all the songs are really good, the band's technical skills are at a very high level, and the final outcome is excellent! Also, the album's closing song, the -almost-30-minute-long suite Big Eastern is really something! This is a very good and enjoyable album. I only wish that the band will continue like this. My Rating 4.0 stars

Report this review (#2119565)
Posted Sunday, January 20, 2019 | Review Permalink

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