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Michael Manring

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Michael Manring Thonk album cover
3.51 | 5 ratings | 2 reviews | 20% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Big Fungus (3:36)
2. Snakes Got Legs (5:00)
3. Monkey Businessman (3:48)
4. Disturbed (3:05)
5. On a Day of Many Angels (3:42)
6. My Three Moons (4:06)
7. Cruel and Unusual (4:33)
8. Bad Hair Day (3:13)
9. Adhan (2:39)
10. You Offered Only Parabolas (6:13)
11. The Enormous Room (4:07)

Total Time 44:02

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Manring / Basses
- Steve Smith / Drums (2, 5, 7, 10)
- Tim "Herb" Alexander / Drums (1, 4, 8)
- Alex Skolnick / Guitar (4, 7)
- Steve Morse / Guitar (2, 10)
- John Cuniberti / Percussion (5, 10)
- Phil Aaberg / Piano (10)

Releases information

High Street Records, 72902 10322-2

Thanks to SaltyJon for the addition
and to SaltyJon for the last updates
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Highstreet 1994
$3.38 (used)
Thonk by Michael Manring (1994-02-01)Thonk by Michael Manring (1994-02-01)
Bmg Music

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MICHAEL MANRING Thonk ratings distribution

(5 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(20%)
Good, but non-essential (60%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars This is the Michael Manring album to own. On this release he sheds the Windham Hill chains (although it was released on Windham Hill's subsidiary label, High Street), and plays some heavy jazz rock fusion. And he has some high powered musicians backing him up, most notably Steve Morse (The Dixie Dregs, Kansas, etc.).

Compositionally, Manring is good, but not great. But then, he had previously been creating music for people who aren't quite awake, so I guess he needs practise in that area. The songs are mostly written around his two-handed tap and slap style, similar to the way Stu Hamm plays. His fretless bass soloing sometimes gets close to the sound of Jaco Pastorius.

The bast tracks: Snakes Got Legs and Bad Hair Day.

Highly recommended for the bass fanatic.

Review by Tapfret
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.

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