PHIL MANZANERA & ANDY MACKAY
In 2018 when Andy MacKay released 3Psalms, he made the statement that he would have to retire from music due to health concerns. Thankfully, and miraculously, MacKay not only got better but returned to music by participating in Roxy Music’s 50th anniversary tour in 2022 recording new music with his old friend and fellow Roxy Music member Phil Manzanera. That album, Roxymphony, was a creative revisiting of classic Roxy Music songs.
This is a stunningly beautiful, thought provoking, creative, interesting album. It is the natural follow-up to Roxymphony, in that it is an instrumental album full of ideas and music that could only come from these two artists. AM.PM is entirely instrumental, and like all classic instrumental albums, it requires focus. This is not background, easy listening or ambient music. It is music that evokes energy, emotion, feeling and touches the soul. It is from beginning to end an incredible achievement.
Of course the two have some help, including Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson, who adds his own style and distinct use of drums and percussion throughout the album; not on every song, but when he is there, one knows it. “EGM” is an excellent example. He provides that steady and somewhat unsettling drum pattern which makes the song sound so rich. Also helping out on the album are Anna Phoebe on violin, Seth Scott on flute, George Goode on tuba, and Yazz Ahmed on flugelhorn. Mike Boddy, who also co-produced the album, provides bass/programming/keyboards.
The styles of music changes throughout the album. Perhaps it is easier to say what the album is not. It is not ambient, not jazz, not classical and not straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll. And yet, at times it is all those things. Manzanera rocks out with the guitar but then shows great restraint and plays bluesy jazz guitar (check out “Seth”). Listening to this album one walks away knowing that Manzanera is one of the best at what he does, while MacKay shows why too he is at the top of the saxophone tower.
AM.PM is an unusual album and one that requires a few spins on the turntable. Manzanera and MacKay have never done the expected. On this album they experiment, and it pays off. It is a fascinating musical excursion and an album that delivers something different every time it is heard. They have never really stopped finding new sounds over the past 50 years or so, but with AM.PM, the duo let their musical imaginations soar.
Andy MacKay Links
Phil Manzanera Links
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: PHIL MANZANERA & ANDY MACKAY – AM.PM