AlphawavesAlbum | Life Coach (music group) By Stewart Mason
Post-rock solo project becomes questing neo-psychedelic duo.
As a band member (Trans Am, Fucking Champs, etc.) and a producer (Wooden Shjips, The Fresh and Onlys, pretty much every other great psych-leaning band currently in the Bay Area), Phil Manley has always been a team player. So it's probably not a surprise that after making his solo debut with 2011's Life Coach, he's decided to turn that one-man-band into a group, with Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore on the kit full time and Golden Void's Isaiah Mitchell as occasional lead guitarist. The results are a full-bodied blend of post-rock chops and psychedelic space, not quite entirely instrumental (the prog-rocking "Fireball" and "Mind's Eye" are straight-up vocal tracks, akin to some of Greg Lake's showcases in early King Crimson) but with the guitar-drums interplay always at the forefront. Structured more as one multi-part suite rather than a collection of unrelated songs, Alphawaves flows perfectly from one track to the next. The sudden shift from the free-floating ambient guitar bliss of the opening "Sunrise" into the motorik thrum of the title track, or the way "Into the Unknown" eddies and flows on the tides of Theodore's drums, shows an impressive command of dynamics, But Alphawaves is more about release than control.