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manning - cascade

Country of Origin: UK
Format: CD
Record Label: Cyclops
Catalogue #: CYCL105
Year of Release: 2001
Time: 64:05

Tracklist: Walking In Cascade (5:42), By The Book (A Pop Song) (6:19), Tears In The Rain (5:07), Catholic Education (5:48), Hushabye Mountain (3:03), Lead Me Where You Will (6:52), Flight 19 (5:55), The Night And The Devil (5:52), Owning Up (5:41), The Time Of Our Lives (6:11), Winter (7:35)

Guy Manning has produced two albums before this one, Tall Stories For Small Children, and The Cure. I was very impressed with both albums, and was looking forward to hear the new album, also since he now for the fist time has had the ability to record with a complete band, including a guest appearance of Angela Goldthorpe of Mostly Autumn.

Guy has been, and still occasionally is, affiliated with Parallel or 90 Degrees, and his last album The Cure could be considered pure prog rock, where his debut album was a bit more in the (progressive) singer-songwriter style. I hoped that his next album would expand more on the progressive style he had shown to master on The Cure. Unfortunately, he has turned back a bit more to the style of the first album, and where the tracks on the first album were mostly quite intense, on this album he turns a bit more to pop/rock tunes (for instance in By The Book, which even has a subtitle called A Pop Song, or the very eighties Catholic Education, which does have a great break in the middle section). In this respect he seems to go a bit down the same road as Fish, as both this track and Lead Me Where You Will remind me a lot of Fish's (not necessarily best) solo work. There are some nice melodic parts in these tracks, don't get me wrong, but for instance Lead Me.. has a very bare second section where not much happens. Sure , it 's a composition style, and as Manning himself put it, it is not meant to hit you in the face but to let it flow over you. That may be true, but it took to long for me.

One of the highlights for me personally is Flight 19. This track, about the disappearance of an airplane in the Bermuda Triangle, is also very calm, but it contains a certain tension, the feeling of quiet desperation, suppressed panic, that the pilot must have felt. One thing has to be said: the album needs a LOT of listenings before you start to appreciate it fully, and so maybe I didn't even hear it enough yet (about ten times). Not that the compositions are overly complex, no, due to the simplicity of many tracks you do not get all the subtleties at once. In that respect he is a bit like Dylan, for instance in Owning Up. Winter may be closest to prog with its haunting keyboard/vocal intro and powerful pounding middle section.

In summary, the album is subtle through and through so if you think of his more "massive" The Cure, you will find yourself in for a surprise. It contains many styles: pop, rock, prog, ballads, lullabies, blues, all in their more moderate form. A note on production and mixing: I personally think it is rather flat, but that again is a personal opinion. The general impression of the album is positive, but for me personally it did not reach the level of Tall Stories or The Cure. Large parts of the album remind me of the way Fish approaches music.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10.
Remco Schoenmakers