We have entered an age where guitarists often abandon notes for the musical manipulation of pure sound. Stian Westerhus is one, and Julien Desprez is another. Like Westerhus, the French guitarist is in such solid command of his effects that they become a musical instrument when combined with his manipulation of strings, slams on the guitar body, and twists of the instrument’s volume knob. Almost more amazing than Desprez solo, is how he integrates these sounds into such a wide variety of musical contexts.
In his youth, Bill Frisell mixed a healthy dose of distortion and dissonance with his pastoral lyricism. For those who think the balance may have, in recent years, tipped a bit towards mellow Americana, I give you Frisell the rocker.
Many Guitar Moderne readers are aware of Eivind Aarset‘s contributions to the music of Jon Hassell, Nils Petter Molvær, Andy Shepard, Dhafer Youssef, and Michel Benita’s Ethics, as well as his own his own body of brilliant work. Fewer have heard his earlier playing in the band Ab und Zu, in which he was joined by his wife Anne-Marie Giørtz. There he displayed the pop proficiency and versatility that has made him a valued session player. Below is just one example of their multi-style output.
Form the sound of this teaser video for her upcoming release Capital Punishment for Cars [Grappa Records], Ms. Giørtz’s music has evolved in an interesting direction, displaying a less familiar side to her husband’s playing as well.
A live version:
Few guitarists attempt to improvise for a full set using minimal if any effects or prepared guitar implements. Keeping the music interesting and, well, musical for a forty minute set with nothing but a guitar and your fingers is not easy. Ken Aldcroft manages to do it through a thorough background in jazz, extended finger techniques like tapping and pinch harmonics, and a rooted sound that comes from the blues.
As a music journalist, it is my job to review pedals. No doubt about it, it is a great job. I get to try out dozens of cool pedals each year. These days, it is rare to find one that doesn’t sound good, within the parameters of what it is trying to do. I really have nothing to complain about, but I do have a minor caveat.
Pedal builders are using a wide variety of footswitches. Leaving aside the idiotic argument about true bypass versus buffered for another time, my issue is the varying ways the switches need to be pressed.