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.
As a budding photographer, I was thrilled when guitarist Brandon Ross introduced me to Ralph Gibson through Facebook. It turned out that Ralph is not just a world renowned photographer, with work on display at the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the J. P. Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA, but also an avid guitarist, as interested in the future of the instrument as we are. He has published two books featuring the guitar, Light Strings and State of the Axe (with Andy Summers http://www.guitarmoderne.com/pioneer/the-andy-summers-interview). The latter could serve as an analog version of Guitar Moderne, with its photographs of and interviews with many of the same guitarists that appear here. The pictures in Gibson’s first book of photography, The Somnabulist, are like a dream, not necessarily linear, but very illuminating. Our conversation proved to be similar, wandering off on tangents, moving at oblique angles, but centered by a shared vision.
Summer is shaping up to be a bonanza time of year for new records featuring modern guitarists.
First we have a teaser for a record being released in August. For Terje Rypdal’s birthday, August 23rd, Rune Grammofon is releasing Sky Music: A Tribute to Terje Rypdal featuring – Nels Cline, Hedvig Mollestad, Bill Frisell, Jim O’Rourke, David Torn, Raoul Bjørkenheim, Henry Kaiser, and more. Produced by Henry Kaiser, who does an amazing job on the producing and playing front, this is shaping up to be THE modern guitar record of the year.