I feel like it was nearly five years ago that I first saw Mod Devices Mod Duo (€649.00) at a NAMM show. It seemed like a great idea at the time: a hardware pedal that could host plug-ins. I had just begun exploring the unique sounds I could get using plug-ins on the computer in Ableton Live. These were sounds unavailable in stomp boxes at the time, but since then, more and more boutique pedal manufacturers have released the kind of granular, filtering, and ambient effects that were until now only available in the computer. Still, the Mod Duo offers both freedom from a laptop on stage, and a plethora of pedal style and plug-in style effects in a small footprint. Its open source nature also bodes well for modern sounds not yet available from stomps. What do you think?
In my recent conversation with Ralph Gibson I posited that many modern guitarists who traffic in large part in noise are nevertheless highly schooled on the instrument, whether in classical, jazz, rock, or all of the above. Raphael Vanoli is one such guitarist. But more important, in his solo work Vanoli has developed the technique of blowing across the strings to a high art, turning the guitar into a kind of wind instrument. Add to that his unique dub/electronica duo Knalpot with Gerri Jäger on drums, percussion, electronics, synth, and Casio, and you have one of the more exciting modern guitarists working today.
I rarely write about books, perhaps because there are few coming out that seem to fit the GM format. Still, two relatively recent publications should be of interest to modern guitarists.
Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom, Before 1970 by David Toop [Bloomsbury Publishing] If you haven’t read Toop’s Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds, stop reading this and buy it immediately. For that matter if you care about modern music at all make sure you get around to all of his books. Into the Maelstrom is his long awaited first installment about the philosophy and practice of improvisation (both musical and otherwise). His erudite discussion leans towards England and Europe, but then so did much of the free improv scene. His personal relationship with many of the players makes the reading that much more interesting.
There have been short clips of this available in the past of this group, with Palle Mikkelborg, Håkon Graf, Sveinung “Thunder Thumb” Hovensjø and Jon Christensen doing a TV special for NRK in 1978, but this is the first time I have seen the full concert. Thanks to Lasse Postmyr for uploading it to YouTube and Peter Freeman for posting on Facebook.
The guys from Sweetwater demo a bunch of pedals that will help you create synthesizer sounds without having to learn to play keyboards. As comprehensive as this is, it just scratches the surface. Look for more pedals that create synth-like sounds soon a Guitar Moderne.