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Attention Deficit — Attention Deficit
(Magna Carta MA-9022-2, 1998, CD)

Attention Deficit Cover art

Magna Carta seems pretty adept at assembling these three-man supergroups lately. First there was Black Light Syndrome, then Liquid Tension Experiment, and now Attention Defecit. While the first two were more along the lines of a standard rock/metal assemblage, this one is more in the experimental/improvisational vein, right up the road from Polytown. Guitarist Alex Skolnick, who cranked out the metal in bands like Testament for years, has in recent times settled into a more solo/session oriented career as a guitarist’s guitarist and columnist for a number of guitar mags. Drummer Tim Alexander is probably best known for his many years with Primus, while bassist Michael Manring has a long career as a session bassist for Windham Hill, and is currently a member of Cloud Chamber (see article in issue #15). The seed for this project was actually planted on Manring’s ‘94 solo album Thonk, where the three performed together on one track. On these 18 tracks that span nearly an hour, the three slug it out and show all their best tendencies. The rhythm section works amazingly well, creating a flexible framework where Skolnick can paint his notes and ideas, and Manring can work his loops and throbbing fretless. Unlike Polytown, these guys have the good sense to know when to call it quits with an idea, as most of the pieces are comfortable in the three to four minute range, and rarely go beyond that; hence there’s always something new happening at every turn. Highly recommended.

by Peter Thelen, Published 1999-10-11

Magna Carta is finally doing something right. They've created a niche for improv fusion projects with virtuoso performers. To date, the label has released three albums in the genre: Black Light Syndrome, Liquid Tension Experiment and now, Attention Deficit. This workout disc is another power trio pushing at breakneck strides again across several rhythmic backdrops and aggressive solos. The difference between this disc and the previous projects is not so much in the players' chops but rather their intuition to intermingle and juxtapose. Overall it's a better mix of talent, with more subtlety and sensitivity to a mood or setting. Guitarist Alex Skolnick (ex-Testament) shows an altogether undocumented part of his playing based on his controlled effects and smart interjections into the constantly changing passages on the album. The man shows some restraint which contrasts well to the ensemble. Monster bassist Michael Manring doesn't do so much holding down the low end as in adding melodic counterpoint to the proceedings. His playing can switch from Pastorious tonalities to pumping iron pulses to propel a song to the hilt. Drummer Tim Alexander is adept to move between grooves to aggressive fusion to straight ahead rock often with little time delay. The balance between players is better here than most non-vocal albums. Rumor has it that these same three have played around the local bay area as the notorious SkolPatrol playing weird versions of TV cop show themes. If that doesn't explain what these guys are made of, I'm not sure what will!

by Jeff Melton, Published 1999-10-11

Filed under: New releases, Issue 16, 1998 releases

Related artist(s): Michael Manring, Attention Deficit, Alex Skolnick

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