Phil Manley loves his instrumental music. Knows it too. Life Coach, his first instrumental album seems to double as a love-letter to the oft-ignored genre and at the same time, paying tribute to some of the older pioneers.

It all starts with 'FT2 Theme', a track that seem to be more in the style of kraut-rock (and maybe early 80s electronic music). It's not a great album opener, as it sounds slightly misplaced in comparison to the other tracks, which are more guitar driven, but has enough synth bits to give it that extra sense of atmosphere. Gotta say the same about 'Life Coach', not really a fan of those two tracks.

But enough negativity, as the bad is outweighed massively by the good. 'Commercial Potential' and 'Lawrence, KS' go for some very sweet (and clear, oh so clear!) fingerpicking that have a sense of urgency that, although might be a little droning, work perfectly. 'Lawrence, KS' works better, giving you a sound landscape that's pretty memorable.

'Forest Opening Theme' is pure synth, and a very magical one at that. Sounding like the soundtrack to some found footage, this minimalistic piece is another corker in Life Coach. 'Gay Bathers' is probably the other sweet and dreamy track that sounds as cheerful as a sunny day in the park.

Not all is dreamy landscapes. 'Work it out' keeps it simple, but instead of giving you a nice dream, it goes for something that sounds nightmarish, but still vivid enough. 'Make good choices' seems to be lo-fi on purpose, sounding very roomy and again, going for some sweet arpeggios that grow more frantic in pace as the song progresses.

'Night visions' again seems to be a throwback to old school electronic music, but, honestly, can't pinpoint the name of a band or artist that made this sort of stuff. It's an interesting thing when something sounds old while still sounding fresh and even if Phil Manley doesn't pull it off in 'FT2 Theme', I think that clash and intertwining of old and new wraps up perfectly in this track. That wailing tone (is it an ebow? Could be. Love it more if it is) is chilling.

A "keep it simple" approach seems to be Phil Manley's choice for style and seems to work better than the layered approach on the odd bad track. I really can't say that Life Coach is a very commercial album, but it certainly is very well recorded ('Work it out' and 'Night Visions' are marvellous!) and it's a very nice change of pace. "Experimental" might be a very trite term to throw at Life Coach, so let's call it "music with thick, well made atmospheres" and tip our hat's towards Phil Manley.

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