ATTENTION DEFICIT

"Attention Deficit" (Magna Carta; 1998)attentiondeficitst.jpg (10634 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Not particularly heavy, but this disc is filled with lots of exciting improvisation from Alex Skolnik (formerly of Testament) on the guitar, Michael Manring (known for his work with Michael Hedges) on bass, and Tim Alexander (formerly of Primus) on drums.

Skolnik doesn't dwell on his thrash metal past on this disc - don't expect any crushing riffs here; Attention Deficit finds Skolnik exploring his jazz and fusion interests. Manring has a lot of chops and this disc displays those talents here in vivid, creative fashion. Alexander, widely recognized as one of the world's greatest drummers, provides many unique beats and rhythms in every song.

The "suite" of songs "ATM," "TMA," and "MAT" are probably the disc's greatest accomplishments; I suspect these songs were some of the tunes that were captured during a jam, reworked, and distilled to their essence. The basic "sound" in these three songs is the same - yet each tune has a different feel to it. The funky "Scapalu" demonstrates the arty side of the trio's creations, the sprawling "Fly, Pelican, Fly" is the obligatory space jam tune, and "Ill Fated Conspiracy" has a dramatic feel to it with a constant keyboard pulse and interloping bass and guitar interruptions.

Some songs are little fragments such as "Snip" clocking in at 22 seconds and "Festivus" at 10 seconds. These songs exist for a reason, I'm sure of it; I just can't figure out why. Artistic freedom leaves the listener to ponder such questions - in any case, I suggest that less thought might actually lead to more enjoyment in these instances.

Some tunes sound like raw jamming, other tunes sound like crazed experiments, and others sound like tunes that were actually worked out. The liner notes suggest that the record was "organized chaos" which implies lots of jamming and the best pieces were taken out for the disc.

Although the varying length of songs makes the disc a bit disjointed to listen to, it is clear that the band created some unique vibes. The music makes for interesting background music if you choose to distance yourself from the intricacies of the musician's efforts, but at the same time the listener is rewarded with great insight if particular intellectual thought is given to the songs.

Check out the band's official website at the Magna Carta label at http://www.magnacarta.net

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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