been listening to this for a while now . Here's my review
for anyone who might be interested
Rasping flute contrasting with melodic flute passages ,inspired
fiddle playing, subtle acoustic guitar, ,shifting keyboard
textures ,virtuoso saxophone and blues based electric guitar solos
are all found within Guy Manning's latest release.
Ansers Tree is difficult to categorise as it draws upon so many
musical styles and influences. It is a real eclectic mixture which
rewards some degree of effort on the part of the listener.
Repeated play of this disc reveals many layers of musical
excellence. It has hidden depths just waiting to be discovered.
Ansers Tree's overall sound and style has stylistic links with
Guy's previous releases. It should appeal to fans of his music.
However , Ansers tree is arguably more complex than his last
release 'One Small Step' and as a result is probably not as easily
accessible. It features excellent ensemble playing, frequent
changes of mood and tempo within individual songs.
Ansers tree is a concept album in the grand tradition of such epics
as , 'Tales of Topographic Oceans' and 'A Passion Play'. It tells
the story of the ancestors of Dr Jonathan Anser and how Dr
Anser discovers the secrets of his genealogy. Lyrically it is
intriguing. The CD begins with the memorable line .
'Ice Cold Valleys protect from the eyes of all strangers that
wander the hills'. This sets the lyrical bar high for rest of the
CD and it does not disappoint.
Margaret Montgomery begins with a beautiful flute melody before
lulling you into thinking that this song is going to be a
straight forward folk rocker albeit with a memorable chorus. It
explodes at the 2min mark with a superb flute break played by
Molly Blooms Steve Dundon . Steve's playing throughout this CD is
magnificient . He is clearly inspired by Ian Anderson and has
perfected a dirty flute sound reminiscent of Anderson at his most
guttural.. The biting flute solo is closely followed by a tasty
acoustic guitar interlude. When the song resumes The keyboard
runs in the background remind of sections of 'On The Carousel'
from Guy's 'View From My Window' release It's a great opener.
Next up is Jack Roberts. This is worth the price of the CD
alone. It evokes images of mountains and solitude. It features
a melody that can be hummed and is epic in proportions. The mood
changes at the 3min mark to feature some remarkable keyboard
playing by The Tangent leader Andy Tillison This section of the
song is supplemented by one of the most beautiful flute passages
I have heard . The track ends in climatic fashion with soaring Sax
playing and backing vocals . Simply memorable and just wonderful
Track 3 William Barnes deals with a mining community of the North
East of England and a specific mining disaster. It begins with a
folk rhythm led by a fiddle and augmented by handclaps . I found
myself imagining miners singing along to this in their working
mans club . It then develops into a progressive workout that
has numerous imaginative twists and turns. The music
consistently reminds of the subject matter of the song. It
generates vivid thoughts of the miners lot and the work they did.
Parts of this track have a similar ambience to Tull's A Passion
Play. It has that same riffy feel with vocals soaring overhead
accompanied by complex rhythms. One instrumental section is even
reminiscient of 'Nice little Tune' from Tull's Minstrel in The
Gallery. This sentiment is further reinforced when the flute
enters the fray at the 5.40 mark in great fashion
Emotive vocals call out 'Is anyone else alive down here ?
A haunting and unnerving track which once heard embeds itself
into consciousness. This is partly because of the great chorus
which is just unforgettable ,but is largely because of the many
different facets of this lengthy piece. I particularly love the
outro of this track with its piano and spitting flute before
the folk rhythm is revisited .
Diana Horden is another track that has proved to be a real
grower . Its Sax led rhythm just works and demonstrates Guys
ability to craft a good tune.
Once again the track develops and has many excellent moments .
The flute features heavily in a lovely instrumental part before
the Sax led rhythm resumes.
Joshua Logan is probably the most straight forward track on the CD.
On repeated play the lyrics which are basically a series of
questions have become irritating. The track as a result is not as
satisfying for me as the previous tracks . Of note and I assume it
was not accidental, the end section revisits parts of 'Lead Me
where you will' from Guy's Cascade album
The second longest track on the CD is Prof Adam Logan. Initially,
I did not like it , but it has revealed its true nature over
time. Whilst not my favourite on the CD it has enough subtleties
and nuances to make it an interesting and rewarding listen. It also
features a chorus which might just get your Granny singing
as well. Interestingly parts of this track also conjour up memories
of aspects ' A Passion Play'. It also includes a great ending
that includes the singing of 'Singing in the Rain ' ala Fred
Astaire. I suspect though that some will find the lengthy outro on
this track tiresome and unpalatable. Made me smile and sing
The final track brings the whole concept together . Dr Jonathan
Anser has discovered the secrets of his past and departs to a
lengthy instrumental cacophony led by the Sax and guitar. So
ends Ansers quest.
I for one cannot wait for the next instalment.