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Phil Manzanera: The Sound Of Blue

Arresting musical memoir from the Roxy guitar man.

Manzanera’s solo work has never been short on ambition, and The Sound Of Blue travels far and wide, in both a literal and figurative sense.

His own story serves as narrative thread, with Magdalena and 1960 Caracas recalling, respectively, the influence of his Colombian mother and the heady thrill of arriving in Venezuela as a child. Manzanera avoids the obvious, though, and instead of salsa and merengue, we get pulsing electronica that’s closer to Kraftwerk or Fujiya & Miyagi. It’s one of two songs, on an otherwise instrumental album, to feature vocalist Sonia Bernardo. The other is a cover of No Church In The Wild, by Jay-Z and Kanye West, who sampled Manzanera’s riff from K-Scope for their 2011 original. Elsewhere, there’s Miles Davis-inspired jazz (the title track), throbby ambience (Rosemullion Head), Spanish reverie (Tramuntana) and, on High Atlas, an approximation of the bustle of Marrakech. At the heart of everything lie Manzanera’s clean tones and melodic craft. The wonderfully strange In Conversation With Andy Mackay is a choice example, built around a phone call between the two Roxy Music musicians and edited in a way that invites you to fill in the blanks.