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Manzanera, Phil, & Anna Le: Nth Entities

Nth Entities is, if nothing else, a novel experience. A collaboration between poet Anna Le and musician Phil Manzanera, the work's ambition and concept are intriguing. However, as you could probably guess, the formula (Le reciting her words over Manzanera's restrained musical backgrounds) wears thin and tiresome after a while. Their unity is amiably affective and unique for a bit, but eventually you may stop caring about what Le says and what Manzanera plays.

The duo first starting thinking about this project two years ago, when Le read a poem about Jimi Hendrix at Gavin Martin's "Talking Musical Revolutions." Afterword, she was told by Hendrix biographer Charles Shaar Murray (who was in attendance) that her words should be put to music by Manzanera. For listeners with similar tastes, Nth Entities will surely fascinate, but for people looking for more diversity and less repetitiveness, the album will simply get old quickly.

Opener "All the While" starts things off nicely with a combination of sorrowful acoustic guitar arpeggios, dramatic yet subtle string arrangements, and plenty of spoken alliteration and rhyme. Le discusses the usual tropes—loss, life, and resentment—while Manzanera channels the moods through music. It's organic feel adds a layer of humility, which makes the whole affair bit charming.

From there, Nth Entities sort of repeats the same patterns. Whether channeled through electronic lenses ("Cali's Cautionary Tale," "My Nth Entities," "The American/British Dream"), heavy hippie rock shrouds ("Jimi," "Jimi Reprise,") or Mike Oldfield-esque earthly casings ("Lego Limbs," "Mountain Top Dreams." "Vowel Play"), every word Le says carries the same forcefulness, which makes her presence feel very monotonous before too long. Similarly, Manzanera's loops and progressions are appealing for only so long; eventually, they'll wear on your nerves just as much as Le's voice.

Nth Entities would work much better as a live performance piece (although the duo's gimmick would still wear out its welcome before they were done). As a purely auditory artifact, it's more notable for its relatively inimitable construction than for its vitality and enjoyment. Granted, you can't blame the duo for doing exactly what they set out to do, but it's still not very pleasing. In fact, I would be shocked if any listener were able to make it through the entire record without feeling annoyed. Taken in very small doses, Nth Entities is intriguing enough; beyond that, it's simply a chore to endure.


Track Listing
  1. ALL THE WHILE
  2. CALI'S CAUTIONERY TALE
  3. MY NTH ENTITIES
  4. JIMI
  5. LEGO LIMBS
  6. THE AMERICAN/BRITISH DREAM
  7. MOUNTAIN TOP DREAMING
  8. SCRATCH
  9. VOWEL PLAY
  10. SOS-bonus track
  11. JIMI REPRISE-bonus track
  12. THE WONDER OF WONDER-bonus track
  13. MUSIC ALL THE WHILE-bonus track

Added: December 26th 2012
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Score:
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 992
Language: english

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