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Phil Manzanera - Primitive Guitars CD (album) cover


Phil Manzanera


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3.88 | 21 ratings

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Easy Money
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4 stars Phil Manzenera is one of the finest guitarists to come from the world of progressive rock. Although he can shred when he feels like it, he tends to play beautiful sustained melodies in a style similar to Steve Hackett or the young Robert Fripp. This album is not really a rock album, even though Phil does play some pretty intense solos, instead it is more like an Italian movie soundtrack or some other style of exotic instrumental music. Many of the songs feature a very limited 80s style drum machine. That would be a disaster on most albums, but Phil uses the machine with good taste and it becomes part of the charm of this unique instrumental album.

Phil has a talent for writing strong passionate melodies which he displays on the Spanish styled album opener, Criollo. Another album highlight is La Nueva Ola which has a subtle disco beat topped by a spaghetti western styled guitar melody. Another great song on side one is Caracas which has a techno- funk beat topped by angry noisy blasts of guitar.

Side two opens with the incredible Europe 70-1. This song starts with a Terry Riley styled repeating synth part and then fades into a beautiful ambient guitar melody that sounds very sentimental but not maudlin. This song is followed by Impossible Guitar which brings back the disco beat, this time topped with synth- strings and some nice guitar soloing. The album closes with Europe 80-1 which is another nice, slowly unfolding ambient guitar melody.

Overall this album is somewhat similar to Bo Hanson's Lord of the Rings or the Fripp-Summers album Bewitched. All three albums seem to share a style that could be called the missing link between progressive rock and 60s era exotic soundtrack music. Despite the electronic drum kit and the occaisonal subtle disco beat, this is a great album full of strong melodies and very inventive guitar playing.

I guess the title, Primitive Guitars, is supposed to be ironic because there is nothing primitive about this record, instead it is as sophisticated as Phil himself.

Easy Money | 4/5 |


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