Mat Maneri is the constant on all three of these records. His viola has a brooding tone that rings similar on each album.
Self-Luminous starts off slow, but eventually progresses to show some strong playing. Mark O'Leary (guitar) pours out some fast paced scales that parade his abilities. The group tends to go quiet and let Randy Peterson (drums) shine, but Maneri and O'Leary are quick to jump back in and grab the spotlight. Peterson does not get nearly enough playing time on this record. At times the string instruments tend to get a bit jumbled and apart from the last few tracks' introduction to a chunkier guitar, the album sounds like one continuous piece.
Chamber Trio, a better collaboration, has Matthew Shipp's steady fingers on the piano keys, allowing Maneri to brood off into space. The first track "Jaunt seems to find this trio's place, where they are all doing their thing without stepping on each other's hands. "St. Ives comes up big with a bit of a fuller sound and a nice piano strut. Some nice crunch comes out of O'Leary's six string to make this stand out a bit. It's nice to hear such experimentation and not the same pattern every time.
On Pentagon, Mat Maneri goes from having two backing musicians to nine. It sounds as if somebody screamed "Go! and everybody raced to see who could get the most licks out. At times, this can make the album less monotonous, but certainly increases the jumbling and chaos. The last track serves up a nice and I'm sure sarcastic rendition of the American anthem and Maneri's father's odd vocals certainly reveal a sense of humor.
Tracks: 1 Self-Luminous Maneri, O'Leary, Peterson 9:22; 2 Camouflage Maneri, O'Leary, Peterson 7:03; 3 No Code Maneri, O'Leary, Peterson 7:50; 4 Concerned Maneri, O'Leary, Peterson 6:33; 5 Purple People Maneri, O'Leary, Peterson 9:55; 6 What's Your Name Again? Maneri, O'Leary, Peterson 1:36; 7 Sweet Maneri, O'Leary, Peterson 4:14; 8 Lilt Maneri, O'Leary, Peterson 6:37; 9 Smear Maneri, O'Leary, Peterson 4:12; 10 Alchemix Maneri, O'Leary, Peterson 4:19.
Personnel: Mat Maneri: Viola; Randy Peterson: Drums; Mark O'Leary: Guitar.
Tracks: 1 Jaunt Maneri, O'Leary, Shipp 9:19; 2 Simple Simon Maneri, O'Leary, Shipp 6:37; 3 Rest Maneri, O'Leary, Shipp 8:24; 4 I Am Not the Only One Maneri, O'Leary, Shipp 8:24; 5 Voice Crack Maneri, O'Leary, Shipp 7:57; 6 St. Ives Maneri, O'Leary, Shipp 6:54; 7 Ligeture Maneri, O'Leary, Shipp 8:40; 8 Kurts Park Maneri, O'Leary, Shipp 9:03.
Personnel: Mat Maneri: Viola; Mark O'Leary: Guitar; Matthew Shipp Piano. Pentagon
Tracks: 1 Ava 2:52; 2 WWP 7:49; 3 Inslut 1:25; 4 Irena 5:37; 5 Third Hand - The Fallen 3:06; 6 Witches Woo 6:11; 7 Wound 9:28; 8 Howl in My Head/Motherless Child 3:06; 9 An Angel Passes By 7:26; 10 Pentagon 0:56; 11 The War Room 7:10; 12 America 3:11
Personnel: John Herbert: Bass; Joe Maneri: Organ, Piano, Electric Piano, Alto Sax, Vocals; Mat Maneri: Violin, Viola; Sonja Maneri: Vocals; Johnny McLellan: Drums; Tom Rainey: Drums; Jamie Saft: Mellotron; Craig Taborn: Voices, Fender Rhodes