Friday, August 16, 2013

Attention Deficit - "The Idiot King" review

Attention Deficit - "The Idiot King"

Attention Deficit is:
• Alex Skolnick - guitars • Michael Manring - bass • Tim Alexander - drums

Listen to Sound Samples:
Attention Deficit on Magna Carta

In their sophomore effort "The Idiot King", Attention Deficit created a more elaborated repertoire than the one comprised in their debut album, which was mostly devoted to the articulation and expansion of various jams. Since there's a major dose of creativity in the writing process, the variety in the musical ideas and rhythmic variations has allowed the trio to generate a more focused power within the stylistic confines inherent to its trio format. Jamming, there is much of it here, too, but generally speaking, this is a more composed album. The shocking aspect of the first album may seem a bit less impressive because "The Idiot King" bears a less urgent feel, but as I said earlier, the energy is not diminished but refurbished in a more focused fashion.

'American Jingo' starts with a ¾ motif in which playfulness and tension state a sense of aggressiveness, latent most of the time. 'Any Unforeseen Event' finds the band exploring more relaxing ambiences, under what I feel is the elegant facet of classic Holdsworth. Since it lasts only 3 minutes, I believe it is too short to properly explore its full potential. A special mention goes to Manring's amazing bass lines stuck somewhere in the middle-. The Holdsworth reference becomes more explicit in 'RSVP' (a personal highlight from this album) and 'Dubya', pieces that go headlong for the dense side of your typical jazz-rock power trio sound, even forming adequate expansions.

Things turn closer to the funky side of things with 'The Risk of Failure', a piece that includes certain Crimsonian trends, especially in some phrases by Skolnick: drummer Tim Alexander shines here with particular brilliancy. A second portion finds the band moving to jazzier structures, with Skolnick showing off his skills and melodic sensibility equally. 'Unclear, Inarticulate Things' is one definitive showcase for Manring's proficiency: Michael uses his prowess to state a precise rhythmic cadence and a solid set of skilful phrases, forcing Skolnick to indulge in some guitar pyrotechnics. The use of mutual challenging in a power trio context is creatively convenient when you have musicians totally committed to each other as these three are. 'The Killers Are to Blame' is the sickest piece in the album, with those combined guitar and bass soundscapes flowing as reckless purveyors of tension, while Alexander goes on forging and recreating the track's rhythmic structure with his fantastic rolls: disturbing and captivating, here is another highlight. Tension remains, reconsidered under a metallic view, in the exciting 'Nightmare on 48th St.', an ominous exercise on electric wildness that shows a mixture of classic Primus, 90s KC and LTE.

All in all, Attention Deficit did a similar thing than Bozzio Levin Stevens: after a first album based on the urgency of initial mutual approximations, a second album came afterwards with a more focused attitude while preserving much of the previous fire. "The Idiot King" is an excellent testament of Skolnick, Manring and Alexander as a well- oiled unit of avant-garde jazz-rock. Thank you, guys!!

Review by Cesar Inca on