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DAMANEK

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Damanek biography
Founded in 2016

This is a project founded by Guy MANNING with Marek ARNOLD (saxes, keys), Dan MARSH (bass) and Sean TIMMS) (keys, backing vocals). Their album "On Track" was recorded from demos of Guy Manning who is the main composer for the music and the lyrics. The album was made with the help of plenty of guest musicians who have recorded some parts in various studios around the world. The music is very accessible mixing prog, jazz and world music with some nice instrumentation including sax and flute.

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DAMANEK discography


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DAMANEK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.72 | 65 ratings
On Track
2017
4.00 | 190 ratings
In Flight
2018
4.26 | 28 ratings
Making Shore
2023

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DAMANEK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Making Shore by DAMANEK album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.26 | 28 ratings

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Making Shore
Damanek Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Guy Manning is back and he's got a great band of collaborators as well as a great sound, thanks to the ROLI Seaboard keyboard.

- Part 1: 1. "A Mountain of Sky" (7:15) From the amazingly pristine sound delivery of the opening song I can tell that I'm in for an audiophilic listening experience. But then the full musical soundscape kicks in and I am put off by the sound(s) used to record the drums. They sound so plastic--so fake and robotically over-sanitized! I love the multi-tracking of the saxophones in the fifth and sixth minutes but then hate the sudden switch to Reggae-mode at 5:38. The vocal performance is quite nice--from Guy and within the full choral arrangement. (13.25/15)

2. "Back2Back" (5:59) from the very opening of this one I am deposited into the 1980s--a lost Gary Katz production of some music for Donald Fagen/Steely Dan, Rosie Vela, or Love And Money. (Even the excellent bass is Tony Levin like.) Surprisingly good! (8.75/10)

3. "Noon Day Candles" (6:33) more amazing sound production of nice instrumental performances beneath a kind of lackluster and weak vocal arrangement. Still, a very nice message in the song's lyrics and some really nice music, textures, and instrumental performances. (8.75/10)

4. "Americana" (4:55) Wow! This could come straight off of a STEELY DAN album! It sounds great (like the Gaucho album). The vocal delivery sounds so much like that of ROBBIE ROBERTSON from his amazing 1987 self-titled solo album. Great sound but not my favorite song. (8.5/10)

5. "I Deep Blue (Sea Songs Pt. 1)" (4:23) nostalgic shlapp. Pleasant as an overall listening experience but nothing of what I'd consider "progressive rock music"; this is like a diversionary off-beat piece used to deliver back story or secondary threads to a stage musical. (8.667/10)

6. "Reflections on Copper" (5:02) more 1980s Steely Dan! Despite it's initially irritating simplicity, it's such a pleasant listening experience! (8.667/10)

7. "Crown of Thrones (Sea Songs Pt. 2)" (6:04) another "old" sounding song--one whose musical base and vocal delivery feel quite at odds with one another. (8.33/10)

- Part 2: 8. "Oculus Overture" (9:07) a Broadway show tune! From the new West Side Story! What great sound production! It's like you're there in the orchestra pit with the musicians! And it's an overture: nine minutes of instrumental work! (17.5/20)

9. "Act I: Spot the Difference?" (4:31) I get it: This "Part 2" is really a collection of songs that make up a musical! "Oculus"! The most confident, relaxed, and IAN ANDERSON-like Guy's voice has sounded on the whole album. A very well constructed prog song. Stylistically, Guy and Peter Jones (TIGER MOTH TALES) have a lot of common musical knowledge that they draw from. (8.875/10)

10. "Act II: The Corridor" (4:25) the story continues--and continues to keep me interested and engaged. The "Caribbean Queen" rhythm track is easy to overlook because of the storytelling. (8.75/10)

11. "Act III: Passive Ghost" (6:28) more music befitting a West End stage production. I've got to hand it to Guy: his bard-like lyrics are quite poetic, quite compelling (and this from me: a music listener who rarely hears lyrics). (8.667/10)

12. "Act IV: A Welcoming Hand" (7:17) a very simple, spacious musical foundation is very quickly, nicely filled by a weave of multiple layers of completely separate saxophone melodies. Very cool! Another great delivery of beautiful storytelling--one fit for live stage performance. It has more than a little AL STEWART feel to it. (13.25/15)

Total Time 71:59

So often during my listening to this album was I filled with a nostalgic feeling that I was listening to a Gary Katz product--like some new STEELY DAN material; this album of eclectic if old stage-worthy jazz-pop is so beautifully engineered that the lush listening experience alone is worth your time. I just wish the music wasn't so rooted in 1970s standard rock forms and constructs--especially the ultra-simplistic multi-keyboard chord progressions. Also, during the first "part", Guy's very nicely controlled voice sounds a bit frail, a bit old. The second disc's Oculus suite is a far more satisfying listening experience than "Part 1" because the music seems to all run together with an integrated fullness as well as a cohesive purpose. Would that the listening experience of the first seven songs be as flowing and uniform as the last five. At the same time, I can say without equivocation that this is my favorite album I've ever heard by Guy Manning. Also, after several listenings, it has also proceeded to deliver increased enjoyment with increased familiarity. (I've always loved Gary Katz' sound production as well as stage musicals.)

B/four stars; an excellent addition to any music lover's collection--definitely one amazing display of sound production!

 Making Shore by DAMANEK album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.26 | 28 ratings

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Making Shore
Damanek Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars Sometime in the last century I came across a band called Parallel or 90 Degrees, and when the guitarist started releasing his own albums, I followed the career of Guy Manning with great interest. Some time later I became aware of saxophonist and keyboard player Marek Arnold and have also followed his many bands ('Stay' by The Artwork Project is still a song I play regularly). Keyboard player Sean Timms is also someone of whom I have been aware for some years, so when the three of them, together with bassist Dan Marsh, formed Damanek and released 'On Track' in 2017 I was of course intrigued. They followed it up with 'In Flight' a year later, but since then there has a been a gap until this their third, which has seen the departure of Dan. As with the other albums they have brought in additional musicians to help them fill the sound, including drummer Brody Thomas Green and guitarist Cam Blokland assisting their Southern Empire bandmate Sean, with Guy again providing all the material.

Guy and Sean worked on the arrangements, with Marek then weaving his magic around them, the three combining to create something special which was then embellished by the additional players. At times Guy has a very similar vocal style to Ian Anderson, but that is his natural singing voice as opposed to an affectation, and like Ian, Guy often has important stories to share. Sometimes these can be fiction, such as in the dramatic and 30-minute epic which closes this album, 'Oculus' or can be designed to make us think such as 'In Deep Blue' and 'Crown of Thorns' which are the first two in what may be a new series, subtitled 'Sea Songs'. It is important the lyrics are strong as they must stand out up against powerful prog which is incredibly deep and passionate. Damanek could never be considered 'prog-lite' as while they do take on modern production and ideas, in many ways this is looking straight back into the Seventies in terms of its prowess and impact. They are a band who are making their own furrows in the field, not following others, but very much on their own path. That being said, there are some musical motifs borrowed during the mighty 'Oculus' which make me smile, exactly as they are designed to do.

This is majestic music, bringing together elements which people would not normally consider prog (love the backing vocals on 'In Deep Blue'), but surely that is what this is all about? There is no desire to sit within any preconceived boxes, instead the music goes where it will, and we are happy to have informative and intelligent guides for the journey at hand. Complex and complicated, almost orchestral in parts, this is never heavy handed but instead there is a lightness which is inviting us into the web. Here we have an album to be enjoyed on the first time of playing, which only takes us deeper each time we investigate further. Indispensable.

 On Track by DAMANEK album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.72 | 65 ratings

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On Track
Damanek Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars British multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer Guy Manning (b. 1957) has made a long and winding career in various prog bands and projects: PARALLEL OR 90 DEGREES, THE TANGENT, and his very own project under the name of MANNING. UNITED PROGRESSIVE FRATERNITY was in a way a continuation of the Australian band UNITOPIA. In 2016 Manning started a new project DAMANEK with Marek Arnold on saxes, clarinet and keyboards, bassist Dan Marsh, and Unitopia's founding member, keyboardist-guitarist Sean Timms (who wasn't involved in UPF). With a wide cast of international guest musicians involved, they recorded this debut album based on Guy Manning's compositions and demos. The CD was released via Giant electric Pea, the prog label founded by Martin Orford of IQ.

On Track is accessible, jazzy, modern-sounding and elegantly produced crossover prog. 'Nanabohzo And The Rainbow' is a great, suitably catchy opener that features really nice parts for reeds and percussion bringing a slight Oriental world music feel. I'm glad that Manning's voice has matured, sounding less similar in manners to Ian Anderson than it did earlier; of course his natural singing voice still resembles Anderson's, but in a pleasant way. 'Long Time, Shadow Falls' has a very dynamic and airy soundscape easily overshadowing the studio perfection of Peter Gabriel. The more serene 'Cosmic Score' -- arranged beautifully by Nick Magnus -- gives the main attention to the heartfelt melodicism. The vocal parts are equally enjoyable as the solo section.

'Believer-Redeemer' is almost pure jazz / fusion with a cool groove. After five highly enjoyable tracks comes the irritating, march-like 'Big Parade' which is supposed to be humorous, resembling a bit of 'The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging' in Genesis's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, or 'The Ballad of the Decomposing Man' in Steve Hackett's Spectral Mornings. 'Madison Blue' returns to the melodic, emotionally powerful serenity focusing on piano and (mock-)orchestration in its arrangement. The final piece 'Dark Sun' (13:43) with a strong environmental message is the album's only track longer than eight minutes, and it's gorgeous. Phideaux guests on vocals, although Manning remains the main vocalist.

This 54-minute album is in my opinion very enjoyable, except for the humorous song which I don't like. The jazzy arrangements with lots of soprano saxophone and clarinet are very sophisticated, and the production (by Sean Timms) is brilliant. Just a bit more of the progressive edginess would raise my rating to maximum. A must for all keen on Guy Manning's various projects and warmly recommended to anyone fancying modernly produced, jazzy crossover prog.

 In Flight by DAMANEK album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 190 ratings

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In Flight
Damanek Crossover Prog

Review by The Jester

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

 In Flight by DAMANEK album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 190 ratings

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In Flight
Damanek Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

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.

 In Flight by DAMANEK album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 190 ratings

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In Flight
Damanek Crossover Prog

Review by CeeJayGee

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.
 On Track by DAMANEK album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.72 | 65 ratings

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On Track
Damanek Crossover Prog

Review by Rickhelme

3 stars Progressive white for everyone. The new band of the great Guy Manning follows the wake of the beautiful compositions of the author of Leeds. Good production, beautiful lyrics, delicate arrangements .... and tributes to the symphonic and progressive of the 70s, plus a slight touch of jazz. That is, one of the most accessible styles for all lovers of good music. Stresses Marek's saxophone and some original moments. But above all it is a pleasant environmental music. It receives influence from Moody blues, Queen, Camel and Genesis. They emphasize the first subject Nanabohzo And The Rainbow and Madison Blue on the rest, something more repetitive. Much better and more ambitious is his second album: In Flight (2018)
 In Flight by DAMANEK album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 190 ratings

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In Flight
Damanek Crossover Prog

Review by 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?!

 On Track by DAMANEK album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.72 | 65 ratings

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On Track
Damanek Crossover Prog

Review by Kingsnake

3 stars When I put on this album, the first thing I thought was: "hey, this sounds like Unitopia and United Progressive Fraternity".

When I looked at the personel, I saw it's the same guys. I like this kind progressive rock very much. I know Guy Manning from UPF and Marek Arnold and Sean Timms from Unitopia and UFP. I especially like the percussion (also a guy from Unitopia) and the saxophone

The songs are romantic and have a pop/soul kind-of vibe, like Talk Talk, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears and Paul SImon.The music is somewhere between intelligent pop, jazz (even jazzfunk), world, rock and progrock. Because pop isn't what it's used to be, I love that progrock musicians fill the gap with this kind of prog-pop.

I think I will play this record a lot, like I played Unitopia and UFP.

 On Track by DAMANEK album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.72 | 65 ratings

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On Track
Damanek Crossover Prog

Review by CeeJayGee

4 stars I was very sorry to hear that Manning had been disbanded. Their last album The Root, the Leaf & the Bone was most enjoyable and Margaret's Children is high up in my favourite albums. So I was very pleased to hear that Guy Manning has returned with a new band Damanek and a new album On Track. On Track is a delightful album of crossover prog. All eight tracks have strong melodies and I love the jazz influence and instrumentation throughout. The lyrics are powerful with important messages, particularly on Believer-Redeemer and Dark Sun. This band and this album deserve greater recognition and I look forward to hearing more in the future.
Thanks to rdtprog for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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