Manikin Timeshark are a UK based band who play a blend of space rock and 80s styled neo-prog. They’ve been around for a while and if you search Manikin Timeshark at archive.org you’ll find numerous links to live shows and studio sessions that can streamed and downloaded. This year they released their first official album, A Trick In Time, recorded in June 2012 by Damian (space) Maguire on drums, (Saxy) Ellie Maguire on sax, Mike (Ponytron) Hewetson on keys, Martin (Golly) Clayton on guitar, “Natural” John McGowan on flute, and Anthony “Numbhair” Bristow on bass. I’ve been acquainted with keyboardist Mike Hewetson for a few years now. He was in the space-prog band Mothership Oracle and, in addition to Manikin Timeshark, currently plays in La Luna e Le Stelle, a space electronic project with Paul Owen and sometimes other musicians. Search them at archive.org to find lots of links to live performances and studio sessions.
A Trick In Time consists of 7 tracks and is about 53 minutes in length. Adrenalin opens the set and after a light spacey keyboard and flute intro, the band launch into a steady prog rocker with swingin’ sax. The music alternates between these two themes and the heavy sections have classic prog keyboards as well as a heavy Hammond organ sound. But the best part is the last 3 minutes, which is a smokin’ high intensity space-prog jam with chunky guitar chords and a monster solo, plus lots of killer varied keyboard action and all kinds of of stylistic influences happening at once. Airspace consists of classic 80s styled neo-prog with a toe dipped in the cosmos. This is high energy rockin’ stuff. I love the guitar, flute, sax, and keyboard combo. Hewetson cranks out a variety of keyboard sounds, both classic prog and totally spaced out. I should mention that he was in the band Galahad for a period in the late 80s, if anyone remembers them. A drum solo in the middle leads to a shifting of thematic gears to a slower paced but still highly intense section with symphonic keys and more killer ripping guitar solos.
Mortemacarbre and Shadow Chaser both feature a space-prog blend that I enjoyed, and the former is the one track of the set with vocals. Some of the keyboards on Dreamcatcher remind me of early IQ. But the wailing spaced out sax sound adds an edge to the music; a contrast that I like and gives Manikin Timeshark a distinct character that somewhat contravenes the neo-prog reference I’ve been making. And Clayton cranks out more killer guitar solos! At 12 minutes, Psychospasms is the longest track of the set. It opens with space synth patterns, flowing atmospheric washes, a lovely flute melody, and the sound of waves crashing against the shore. But once the full band kick in these guys are rockin’ hard and continually shifting thematic gears, blasting the listener with every instrument and stylistic influence in their arsenal, including some great alien attack spaced out effects. About halfway through, the music recedes and we find ourselves in a tension laden, ominously plodding creepy transition. But the pace quickly picks up again and we’ve returned to a multi-faceted world of heavy Hammonds, UFO electronics and saxophones. The music zig zags between these two themes, making for one hell of a space-prog rockin’ roller coaster ride that left me fairly well drained. Finally, Indimentional Time starts off as a trademark IQ styled prog rocker, but then halfway through shifts to cosmic space-prog with a brief but intense Hawkwind-like narrative bit.
In addition to my love for all things space/psych, I grew up on a steady diet of progressive rock and in the mid-80s discovered a mail order outfit here in the U.S. that gave me access to the so-called “neo-prog” bands that were sprouting up in the UK at the time. So Manikin Timeshark’s morphing of those influences with space rock appeals to me and they do a damn good job it. The sax adds a different dimension, the guitar often brings in a welcome good ‘ol hard rock element, and I love it when they include both sax and flute in the same songs. Looks like this will be the final entry to my Best of 2013 list.
To stream and download the album for free visit https://archive.org/details/ATrickInTime
NOTE: The CD is a digi-pack with a new and better remix than is heard on the archive.org download. The cost is £10, + £2 shipping in the UK, and £3 shipping outside the UK. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz