On paper, a collaboration between one of the most inventive guitar players on the planet and a young female South London slam poet may seem a curious fit. However, the Roxy Music legend’s atmospheric soundscapes provide the perfect backing for the latter’s sassy, language-scrambling stanzas.
The pair met two years ago, when Manazera was in the audience of a spoken word event dedicated to Jimi Hendrix – and Le’s poem Jimi is one of many highlights here (“The left-handed ladies’ man/ Who dropped Electric Ladyland”). As the words spit out at machine gun speed, swathes of guitar effects, with a suitable amount of feedback, give the lines structure and punctuation.
Across the 12 tracks – or, rather, poems – Manzanera cuts his musical cloth to fit the subject matter; he adopts a subdued Flamenco approach for the introspective All The While, and manages to make his guitar imitate sirens on the warmongers chronicle The American British Dream. Best of all is The Wonder Of Wonder, Anna’s lively salute to Stevie, with Phil combining synths and strings to the rhythm and melody of Higher Ground.