‘LIFE COACH is a collaboration. Following Phil Manley’s (formerly of Trans Am and The Fucking Champs ) 2011 solo debut ‘Life Coach,’ which Aquarius Records called, “a serious, and seriously kick ass slab of modern minimal krautrock,” Manley set about writing a set of songs that he could perform live. After writing and tracking guitar, bass, synth, and vocals on his own, he recruited his friend and former Golden band mate Jon Theodore (The Mars Volta, One Day As A Lion), with whom Manley has been playing music for two decades, as the drummer and second official member of LIFE COACH. The complimentary kinship between Manley’s tightly constructed songs and Theodore’s unrestrained playing was instant. Rounded out by the addition of Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless, Golden Void), who contributes lead guitar on several songs, Life Coach was born as an entity unto itself.’
So, before I even press the ‘play’ button I’m already sold on this album, what with the references to Earthless , Golden Void and Trans Am! Isn’t the music business so incestuous?!
This album was written and is indeed performed ‘live’ as one continuous piece, with each track flowing into the next with only a barely discernible break notifying he listener of the progression. (Now this makes so much more sense now that I’ve read the Press sheet and rearranged the order in which my copy of the album was downloaded!)
Album opener is ‘Sunrise.‘ It’s only about three minutes long and is a tanpura-led drone track with rushing cymbals and rolling timpani sounding drums that perhaps suggest the morning skies are not so happy! (I often find it amazing just what images you can glean from drone tracks if you just empty your mind and focus on the music / noise.) This then leads into the title track ‘Alphawaves‘ which I’d say has its roots in a krautrock base. It’s seven minutes of real kick-ass riffs and piano arpeggios all set to to a hypnotic but throbbing beat.
‘Limitless Possibilities’ slows things down a little, and comes across as quietly ethereal with the hushed harmonies over a reverb-drenched, slightly darker repeated riff. It’s like a moment of reflection after the title track. ‘Into The Unknown,‘ builds slowly and atmospherically for about three of its five-minute duration, before morphing into a raging swirl of space-rock synths. A further change in mood follows with the more outwardly rocking ‘Fireball.’ This is indeed the first track to incorporate any lyrics as such. There’s a definite Seventies rock thing going on here, and again (as throughout the album really) mention must be made of the drumming style. The rhythm just lolls and rolls constantly. The guitar-work over the top of the riffs is truly splendid without at any point becoming over-bearing or over-indulgent.
‘Life Experience,‘ follows. Another drone-type track, this time reminding me of something The Dead Skeletons might do. Brilliant! ‘Mind’s Eye’ returns us to the heavier side of things, with an incessant chugging riff in the background and ‘clean’ sounding, searing guitar over the top.
Final track ‘Ohm,’ is a classic. It’s an epic. It’s almost seven and a half minutes long, but seems only half that! It’s a dark and brooding drone noise, again with the rushing cymbals in places and also with little interjections of swishing synths to give the impression of a windswept, desolate landscape. To me at least!
At the moment I have no tracks to stream, but will do as soon as some become available. meantime, you’re just gonna have to take my word for it – this is a masterpiece! Do what you can to get a listen / buy!
(Released through Thrill Jockey Records on 15th April)