Review of E.A.D.G.B.E. [12k1025]

Signal To Noise (US)

It’s tempting to look at this record as a counterpart to Locust Music’s Wooden Guitar collection, which also invited four artists to have their say about the state of the guitar. The difference between the two is that Wooden Guitar celebrates the acoustic steel-stringed instrument while E•A•D•G•B•E is devoted to the interface of guitars and computer software. And like Wooden Guitar, there’s enough shared aesthetic ground that the music flows easily from one musician’s segment to the net. Fonica, a japanese duo, is up first. I suspect they’ve devoted some serious listening to Rafael Toral’s music; certainly they share with him an interest in warm, sustained tones and exaggerated guitar harmoonics. One wonders if they’d let loose like he does if given a while album to stretch out? In any case, Iwouldn’t mind hearing more. Keith Fullteron Whitman, who probably doesn’t need an introduction in these pages, comes next. His sole track “Lettera” lasts over nine minutes, and it has an episodic quality and latent sci-fi feel that bring to mind the vintage electronic music that Whitman loves. He uses silence effectively to isolate his disparate sounds, but the silence nor the sounds seem particularly guitar-like, and I wonder if Hrvatski couldn’t have made this whole piece without resorting to the guitar at all. Frenchman Sébastien Roux’s three tracks are more narrowly focused; the emphasis is on layered texture rather than stark gesture, and his sounds are so far from their source that it’d be easy to hear this music and never realize that a guitar was involved. Roux uses pulsing hums and looped clicks on “Biratori” to evoke a sense of melancholy that’d do Philip Jeck proud, while “Utaro” whistles and blips swell and recede in a nearly tidal fashion. American Christopher Willits brings things back to the instrument; his suite “Seven Machines for Summer” makes liberal use of digital bumps and blips as punctuation for phrases that were obviously picked on strings. Willits might teach sound design and hold a certificate from Mills College, but his easily graspable tunes and bouncy rhythms make me think that he studied even more at the schools of Eno, Stereolab and maybe even Hatfield And The North. Good old prog, it’s like a coelacanth; just whne you think its gone for good, it turns up in the nets. Then you move on to his other track “Champagne And Soda” and hear layers of whistles, washes and micro events that bring to mind a milder-mannered-Fennesz. It’s nice, but I wish it didn’t make me think so much of other people’s music. I guess novel gear doesn’t guarantee novel results.

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