There were many terrific records in 2017. In another year, Charlie Rauh’s Viriditas, Dan Phelps’ Arc, and Rights by Manuel Troller’s band Schnellertollermeier might have fit on my “Best of…” list. But this year saw so many releases by modern guitar superstars that I just have to recommend reserving some money to also pick up their worthy efforts.
This list is mine; feel free to list yours in the comment section.
In keeping with the Xmas spirit, here is a track from Les Paul inspired by Jingle Bells but containing all sorts of jungle noises. Les appears to be making the noises with his guitar by scraping the strings and re-pitching them. His guitar-generated animal sounds predate Adrian Belew’s by almost three decades.
Just in time for the holiday that inspired its name, comes Shawn Persinger’sHalloween Baptizm. A problem with much “guitar music” is that it is too much “guitar” and not enough “music.” Much as I love the idiosyncratic nature of the instrument, other than noise-based or ambient guitar, I prefer guitars playing music I can imagine being performed just easily on piano, horns, strings, or vocals. Shawn Persinger’s Halloween Baptizm is just such music. As I listen to him play the overdubbed parts on 6-string, 12-string, nylon-string, and bass, I can easily picture a string quartet of viola, violin, cello, and bass playing these themes.
Some emotional vignettes, a bunch of Mary Halvorson, and, to start off, a set by Raoul Björkenheim eCsTaSy.
Raoul Björkenheim eCsTaSyDoors Of Perception [Cuneiform Records]
Björkenheim adds some new tones to his signature edgy yet vocal style, (like wave form distortion), yet his distinctive instrumental voice continues to shine through.
When I interviewed Nick Reinhart in 2015, he was thinking that his collaboration with Nels Cline, Mike Watt, and Greg Saunier would be out shortly. Over two and a half years later we are finally able to buy the modern guitar superstar extravaganza that is Big Walnuts Yonder. Nick and Mike Watt talk about the process and delay here. Nick has been called “Nels Cline’s younger punk rock brother,” and they work together here like musical brothers of different mothers. A must have for their interaction on Cline’s “Flare Star Phantom” alone.