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Manna / Mirage — Man Out of Time
(New House Music, 2021, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-09-27
Dave Newhouse is one busy musician, although he probably views things differently. With his hands in any number of different projects, from Moon Men, Cloud over Jupiter, Carla Diratz, Nick Prol, and probably many more that I’m unaware of, although his main compositional endeavors are right here with his Manna / Mirage project, Man Out of Time being the fourth full-length recording. While he probably could have played every instrument that appears on the album, save the vocals, which would have been the path of least resistance in the middle of a pandemic, he worked with numerous associates whom he in turn has worked with previously on their respective recordings, which probably ended up being a lot more satisfying anyway. Some of the pieces here were written for other projects — for example the opener, “What’s the Big Idea,” written for a final Muffins big band album that never came to be, or “World Song,” written for a second Carla Diratz album that was abandoned for whatever reason (still featuring her vocals), to several new pieces written exclusively with this album in mind, some featuring Newhouse playing everything, like “Red Ball Express” and “Silver Age.” The album carries a very diverse sense of purpose and a lot of variety across its eight tracks, which is always a good thing, though the Canterbury influences are never too far away on many of the numbers. While Newhouse plays all manner of keyboards and woodwinds (and even drums on one cut), the guests include drummer Sean Rickman, guitarists Bret Hart, Mark Stanley, and Fred Frith, Forrest Fang on violin, Gary Rouzer on cello, bassists Jerry King, Dereck Higgins, and Guy Segers (and King also contributes brass), mallet percussion by Rich O’Meara, and singers Carla Diratz (with lyrics) and Alanna Cohen Duvall (wordless) with engineer Mike Potter from Orion Studios mixing all of the pieces. Throughout, hardly a minute goes by without fresh excitement or curiosity stirring around the next corner, making this fourth Manna / Mirage album perhaps the most satisfying to date.
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