9 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Phil Manley has played with and produced Trans Am, Oneida, Jonas Reinhardt, Mi Ami, Moon Duo, Arp, and Wooden Shjips, so it’s great to hear an amalgam of those influences seep into his (mostly) krautrock-inspired solo album Life Coach. “FT2 Theme” opens with vintage synths and drum machines that recall Trans Am, but in a much rawer form. The song’s bare mechanics are exposed in kinetic motion, like a see-through early-'80s Swatch watch. Similarly, anyone who loved Trans Am’s “Sad and Young” from 1999’s Futureworld will surely dig “Commercial Potential,” with its darkened melodies and gauzy soundscapes. Given that Manley's an engineer and producer, it’s also interesting that much of his inspiration comes from Conny Plank, the celebrated German producer whose golden touch graced the likes of Neu!, Kraftwerk, Cluster, Can, and Popol Vuh. Had Plank mixed Harmonia’s 1976 epic Tracks & Traces, much of the album might have sounded a lot like Manley’s Eno-esque “Forest Opening Theme.” The folky “Gay Bathers” injects an organic contrast toned with wire and wood.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Phil Manley has played with and produced Trans Am, Oneida, Jonas Reinhardt, Mi Ami, Moon Duo, Arp, and Wooden Shjips, so it’s great to hear an amalgam of those influences seep into his (mostly) krautrock-inspired solo album Life Coach. “FT2 Theme” opens with vintage synths and drum machines that recall Trans Am, but in a much rawer form. The song’s bare mechanics are exposed in kinetic motion, like a see-through early-'80s Swatch watch. Similarly, anyone who loved Trans Am’s “Sad and Young” from 1999’s Futureworld will surely dig “Commercial Potential,” with its darkened melodies and gauzy soundscapes. Given that Manley's an engineer and producer, it’s also interesting that much of his inspiration comes from Conny Plank, the celebrated German producer whose golden touch graced the likes of Neu!, Kraftwerk, Cluster, Can, and Popol Vuh. Had Plank mixed Harmonia’s 1976 epic Tracks & Traces, much of the album might have sounded a lot like Manley’s Eno-esque “Forest Opening Theme.” The folky “Gay Bathers” injects an organic contrast toned with wire and wood.

TITLE TIME
2:35
3:01
4:04
4:15
5:05
3:36
1:26
9:28
2:45

About Phil Manley

Best known as one of the founding members of Washington, D.C.’s electro-rock trio Trans Am, Phil Manley also pursued other projects. He engineered albums for Arp, Mi Ami, Moon Duo, and Wooden Shjips, among other acts, and also played guitar with Krautrock worshippers Jonas Reinhardt. In 2011, Manley released his solo debut, Life Coach, which was inspired by the “klangfarben” (sound colors) of German record engineer Conny Plank, who recorded with Kraftwerk, Popol Vuh, and Cluster. ~ Heather Phares

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