I have resisted getting an iPad because nothing intrigued me quite enough to warrant the cost—until now. As soon as I heard about FLUX:FX I began thinking about picking up yet another Apple device.
The app was jointly developed by Adrian Belew, engineer Daniel Rowland, mobile strategists MOBGEN and software developers, Elephantcandy—working together under the rubric NOIISE. It processes audio signals, but calling FLUX:FX a sound-processing app is like calling Adrian Belew a guitar player—superficially true, but far from the whole picture.
At the launch party for Belew’s FLUX (a separate music player app), Nick Mueller from Mobgen gave me a demo of this revolutionary new way to mangle guitar tones. I soon found myself at the Apple Store, buying an iPad and soon after installing FLUX:FX. A full review is down the line, but here are my quick first impressions.
The eldest of the quintet of guitarists who ushered in the golden age of modern jazz guitar (with Frisell, Metheny, Stern, and Scofield), John Abercrombie has maintained the lowest profile of the group, while continuing to carve out a successful career and continually exploring new music. The Jim Hall-like delicacy of his touch, his relentless swing, and ability to play lyrically without ever descending into cliché or prettiness has been a constant source of inspiration.
You may notice some labels making recurrent and multiple appearances on this list and from year to year. These labels have become successful, forward thinking purveyors of boundary stretching music, so it is not surprising they are attracting the best of the best. Cuneiform has a long history in this field, which makes up and coming, virtuoso Anthony Pirog a good match. Rune Grammofon continues to support the ground-breaking work of modern guitar hero Stian Westerhus, while Anti and Nonesuch are becoming the go-to labels for roots artists looking to remain relevant.
Once again this is a purely subjective list, so please let me know if you feel strongly about a record I have left off. We are fortunate so much great modern guitar music is available, but it makes it hard for one man to keep up. Happy Holidays.
My homies at Premier Guitar went to the Adrian Belew Power Trio’s Nashville venue to do one of their fabulous rig rundowns. Check it out here and go to the Guitar Moderne gear tour for a glimpse of the “Magic Closet” they reference here. This may be the ultimate modern guitar rig.
The original Looperlative was prized by serious loopers but financially out of reach of most players. The LP2 is priced for players with smaller wallets, but to make them the company needs to sell 200 in a Kickstarter program. Looperlative loopers do things you won’t find on any other looper, so if you want to get in on the ground floor, here is your chance. Check out their YouTube site for more videos.