Review Summary: Obscure Canterbury Scene classic from Phil Manzanera's Quiet Sun. Jazz loaded prog rock with an aggressively manic edge.
Phil Manzanera's career has spanned five decades and has included collaborations with such well known musicians as Steve Winwood, David Gilmour and Brian Eno. He is obviously most well known as a key member of Roxy Music during the 70's and early 80's but he has also produced a large body of solo material. He started his career as the member of college based outfit 'Quiet Sun' who didn't actually record any material in their time together during the 60's but who came together in 1975 to record this one off collaboration of original material, notably with the help of Brian Eno.
Canterbury Scene music often included elements of jazz, psychedelia and progressive rock with extended improvisations and shifting structures. This album pretty much ticks all of those boxes but there is an extra aggressiveness to the music that is absent from a lot of works from the genre. Manzanera's guitar style became subdued during his latter years with Roxy Music, maybe due to the band's commercial ascent into the realms of mainstream pop, but on here we have quite a different approach. Free to explore and improvise within a free-form setting Manzanera often lets rip with some quite frenzied playing and almost hard-rock style riffing. A case in point is the oddly titled extended jam 'Mummy Was An Asteroid, Daddy Was A Small Non-Stick Kitchen Utensil' in which we are treated to urgent interplays between Manzanera's aggressive riffs, South American influenced leads and Dave Jarett's tasteful keyboard work. Other highlights include the Santana-esque 'Trot' which features a delectable classically inspired piano middle-section from Jarett and the psych-tinged opener 'Sol Caliente' with its spattering piano arpeggios, wailing guitar leads and classic Fender Rhodes sounds. A rhythm section comprising Charles Hayward on the drums and Bill McCormick on bass provide a solid but inventive backdrop throughout and Eno, who is actually only credited with providing 'treatments and oblique strategies', has undoubtedly had a hand in the overall feel and timbre of the music both during the performances and in the engineering and production.
This album contains some of the best Canterbury Scene music ever recorded. Manzanera was ensconsed as a full-time member of the already wildly successful Roxy Music when this side project was recorded so it is understandable that Quiet Sun did not go on to record together again. This is a real pity but it is hard to imagine they would ever have bettered this album. Any fans of early Santana, jazz-fusion or Canterbury Scene music in general should certainly give this a spin.