Posts Tagged ‘guitar’

Alan Courtis – “Unstringed Guitar & Cymbals”

August 18, 2008

I love finding artists who can find new ways to squeeze a few more interesting sounds from their instruments, especially when the results are able to stand in their own right. With the Blossoming Noise release of “Unstringed Guitar & Cymbals,” former Reynols member Alan Courtis unearths a wellspring of sound possibilities both novel and surprising.

Through three long tracks, each titled for a common spice found in curry, Courtis thoroughly explores the aural limits of a stringless (and judging from the digipack photos, rather broken) hollow-body guitar. Processing is employed throughout, resulting in far more than percussive noises– Courtis finds waterfalls of humming and squealing, carnival organs, windchimes, and blown-glass swan calls within this tortured axe. “Coriandro” finds Courtis at the center of a swarm of surreal birdcall noises, alternately calling to them with water gong and nose flute sounds… obviously, this is some wild stuff.

Of course, I’m thrilled at the possibilities Courtis presents. As with so many of my favorite albums of his, a democratic and egalitarian approach shines forth– anyone may not be as talented at generating or arranging these sounds, but they’re definitely within reach of many potential sound-sculptors no matter how indigent. Furthermore, as someone who spent a lot of time playing guitars, its fascinating to hear so many new voices tumble from the instrument.

Naturally, the guitar is not the only recipient of Courtis’s attention, or the title of this disc might be somewhat different. Making excellent use of a cymbal’s lengthy release, Courtis fashions layers of shimmering washes, a perfect environment for “Cardamomo’s” rising and falling guitar clarion to inhabit. It’s a much fuller sound than I would have expected, which is also a pleasant surprise.

Overall, this is a very good disc, and might go down well with those who enjoy the explorations of Derek Bailey, Ferran Fages, or even Boris. I’m not exaggerating– that sort of range is easily represented here. Blossoming Noise generally has very good quality production for their discs, which is fully evident here. Definitely, “Unstringed Guitar & Cymbals” is one I recommend.

“Unstringed Guitar & Cymbals” is available from Blossoming Noise as release “bn034”.

Don’t believe DaveX? Here’s someone else’s review!

Mike Khoury, Ernesto Diaz-Infante – “Hymns for New Fathers”

August 17, 2008

An opportunity for a long-distance collaboration has prompted me to start pulling out many examples of such work from my shelves for re-examination. There’s no shortage of folks working through e-mail, but the fact that it’s even more of an imperfect science than ordinary improvisation means a good lot of it is somewhat lacking.

That’s why I’m happy to report the general success of this 3″ CDR from Mike Khoury’s “Detroit Improvisation” series. A rough-edged little thing, it features twelve untitled sketches of violin and guitar. As is his custom, Khoury employs a variety of techniques for playing his violin; Diaz-Infante often contrasts Khoury’s more blunt approach with a layer of ringing and droning guitar.

The sound quality is better than you might suspect, with interesting stereo effects adding greatly to the overall enjoyment for listeners. On the eleventh track, Diaz-Infante’s pluckings bounce back and forth across the stereo field, while Khoury takes up residence in the middle. The final track explores instrument resonance, with a thrumming pulse spread out before the staccato pops of like a crackling radio tuner.

Initially available in a small run of 50 copies, “Hymns for New Fathers” may be difficult to find. Cross your fingers, and contact Mike Khoury directly to see if there are any copies remaining.