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.
If there is one record store that epitomizes the spirit of Guitar Moderne, it is Downtown Music Gallery. When I lived in New York, I discovered a wealth of new music there and saw some great shows. Here is a video that gives some of the store’s history and shows the kind of guitarists and other instrumentalists who played there. If you are looking for recordings by your favorite artist and can’t find it at your local record store (assuming you have one), these guys will take care of you.
Over five years of artist interviews in Guitar Moderne, it has become evident that a large number of modern guitarists are steeped in, or at least fans of, roots music like traditional blues, country, and/or gospel. Kentucky born, Sacramento raised Ross Hammond continues the trend. His journey begins in the blues, traverses jazz and free improv, and has come full circle to a personal style of acoustic instrumental work that often employs the steel-bodied resonator guitar favored by the likes of Bukka White, Son House, and Tampa Red. His record, Follow Your Heart sets his acoustic outpourings in a church, for some sonically beautiful and soulful music.
Whether performing acoustic dronefests with the latest Paul Vo technology, or jamming with his band Pocketful of Claptonite on his fretted, fretless, or micro-fretted Teuffel, Toone, or New Complexity Harmonic Isolator instruments, Killick Hinds defines the modern guitarist. The Athens, Georgia resident performs steadily locally and sporadically elsewhere in a variety of improvising situations. Here he articulately discusses the foundations and process of his art and the tools with which he creates it.
Guitar Moderne reader, Michael Garfield has a natural science-based perspective on looping and live sampling that is mind expanding. He also offers some straight, nuts-and-bolts info about his gear and how he uses it.