You can almost set your watch by this man,
give him just twelve months & he will have written, recorded & produced
a great new album. This is a momentum he has kept going now for TEN
years. A fact that becomes even more amazing when you hear how good each
new album sounds. Not to mention the variety & scope contained within
each release. This new CD does not break this momentum & the quantity of
previous releases will give a clue to the origin of this albums title.
The first track 'Ships' is a great start to the album. With its driving rhythm & catchy hook it gets you attention straight away. This made a strong impression on me the first time I heard it. There seems to be a lot going on in this track musically & it sounds huge. An opening number on a 'grand scale' that doesn't hold back. An excellent start!
The next song 'The Final Chapter' has a very catchy keyboard start before settling down to a more laidback vocal. This gives way to a keyboard dominated instrumental before returning to the vocal melody. Although this time the vocal is not as relaxed as earlier & has a sense of urgency.
'Ordinary Day' follows & slows things down a bit, a breather if you like after the previous two.
The second track to immediately impress is 'Bloody Holiday!' which surprises me. Lyrically it showcases Guy's humour & musically it's really catchy. At first I thought this maybe a bit of a throw away track but the more I hear it the more I look forward to it coming up.
'Valentines Night' is quite reflective in mood & pace, very easy on the ear. The instrumentation is subtle but yet effective.
Next up is 'The Road Less Travelled' which starts off in an easy going song structure building gradually as it goes. For me it really kicks off at the 6min mark. That's when the instrumental section takes over & things change up a gear. Great stuff indeed & this eventually returns to the melody from which it came.
After that we get 'Another Lazy Sunday'. This is a catchy song with a punchy beat & some interesting percussion. Lyrically the subject matter is exactly what the title suggests.
Then we come to the grand end piece 'The House on The Hill'. This is a great track which wanders beautifully through different musical styles. This really shows all that is good about Manning albums. The track is divided into four parts. It starts slowly with a simple piano & voice, it then progresses into picking up the pace & adding some Tull-like flute work. We also get treated to some nice Saxophone before a very jazzy keyboard part, then onto a guitar break, then another. The flute is back in play before suddenly it all dies down to a much more sombre mood. The vocal comes back for the third & fourth parts of the song. Although the pace has slowed, the intensity has not & as with most other tracks the sound is still on its grand scale. This gives THOTH a spacious feel, something which it truly deserves & does not waste.
The production across the album is very impressive & continues the high standard where the previous 'Bilston' left off. It sounds amazing.
A note must also be made of the package for this CD. Although a jewel case release Guy has managed to create some very nice images within the booklet. All the images are thoughtfully put together to reflect the song lyrics for each track. They also cleverly incorporate the cover 'symbol' within the design giving a sense of continuity throughout.
In summary this is my tenth Manning album (as well as Guy's) & I can recommend this one without any hesitation. In fact I can recommend the other nine just as easily. The opener 'Ships' is streaming on Guy's MySpace page, give it a listen & see what you think.
Highly Recommended & a great addition to the Manning back catalogue.