Life Coach wears its intentions on its sleeve—literally. The cover art exultantly reprises Michael Rother’s (Kraftwerk, Neu, Harmonia) Katzenmusick visuals—fluffy clouds set against blue, BLUE sky. On the lead-off track, “FT2 Theme,” Trans Am guitarist Phil Manley diligently recreates classic solo Rother; he lays down a basic rhythmic pulse and quickly looping melodic themes on electric guitar and synthesizer, then layers brief yet expansive synth lines atop it all. It’s elegant, cleanly limned; vintage krautrock redux.

From thereon in, Manley utilizes pretty much the same structuring stratagems but cleverly varied—rotating the instrumentation used as well as which instrument plays which role. On “Lawrence, KS” the pulse is provided by what sounds like foot tapping, the circular central theme is performed by a lone electric guitar. The repeating hook on “Gay Bathers” is delivered via Manley’s wordless vocal; et cetera. The tunes are consistently straightforward, sturdy and handsome.

Other numbers depart from the formula. “Make Good Choices” is a relaxed acoustic guitar workout ala late period Popol Vuh. “Work It Out” appropriates the languid, fuzzy, sustained guitar lines of Fripp’s work on No Pussyfooting, his collaboration with krautrock’s most fervid acolyte, Brian Eno

Life Coach is lovely, relaxed and nonetheless quietly ambitious. [Thrill Jockey]

-Howard Wuelfing


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