Attention Deficit - "The Idiot King"
(Magna Carta 2001, MA-9054-2)
From Aural Innovations #17 (September 2001)
Tim "Herb" Alexander (Primus), Alex Skolnick (Testament) and Michael Manring (Michael Hedges) have returned for their second album together, combining their influences and talents for a sound which I can best describe as heavy, funky, instrumental fusion based on a proggier Primus, a less-spacey Ozrics, instrumental Zappa and various other influences I am incapable of detecting. The paces vary from almost New-Agey mellow to energetic metallic/Primus-like heaviness, always retaining a high level of progressiveness, production and musicianship, with a good blend of jazzy improv technique and above-average song-writing feel. The fact that it's personally not my favorite kind of music at the moment is arbitrary; there should be lots of funky proggy AI-readers who will dig this.
Most tracks range from 3-5 minutes, with 3 tunes clocking in at the 7-minute mark. Opening track "American Jingo" is probably the most psychedelic piece, and since the liner notes cite that synthesizers were not used, Skolnick must be praised for getting some quite spacey sounds from the guitar; it's my favorite cut of the album. "Any Unforeseen Event" certainly has a distinct Zappa "Black Napkins"-like easy mellow jamming to it, with ever-impressively farty fretless serpentine bass á la Les Claypool from Manring. The longer "Risk of Failure" has some very sweet agile and delicate picking from Skolnick. Naturally Herb remains a vital force throughout, addings those Primus-like alternate tones to his toms. "Dubya" is a cool kick-backer, featuring more fluid lead-licks from Skolnick. "The Killers Are To Blame" has some free and fluid wailing lead-guitar similar to that of the Spacious Mind and intense rolling tribal drums, making it a stand-out from the rest. Another favorite is "Nightmare on 48th St" with its heavy-ass scaley spiral super-shred via Skolnick and progressive percussive attack; towards the end it's the dirtiest moment on this fairly-clean disc.
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Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg