One day I was reading Leo Abrahams’ blog when I turned to my wife and said, “I want this guy’s life.” He had been describing the week’s activities, which might include a session with Brian Eno, live gigs with the likes of Bryan Ferry and Marianne Faithful, a solo guitar gig performing tunes from his instrumental records Scene Memory and Honeytrap, composing film music for The Lovely Bones, arranging strings for Ed Harcourt, or producing an up and coming band like Frightened Rabbit. Recently, with little time for his own music, he has managed to cobble together an EP of six-songs, Zero Sum. Though not a “guitar” record per se, it is chock full of guitar generated tones that will prick up your ears. I have interviewed the British musican before, most recently for a piece on using a laptop in live performance. Here we get a glimpse of the man’s beginnings, influences, and gear.
On April 28th, Nashville/Warsaw, Poland-based composer and performer Robert Bond and guitarist Denny Jiosa presented a program of music as part of the Zeitgeist gallery’s 2013 Indeterminacies schedule. It featured a real-time musical collaboration, via Skype, with a vocal group from Ma’anshan No. 2 Middle School from China. As the choir sang a traditional Chinese song interspersed with recited poetry, Bond and Jiosa improvised chords and beats.
Guitarist Alex Neiser, a/k/a Critical Mess represents the new generation of players for whom Skrillex is as important as Van Halen, and more important than Clapton. His eschewing of amps in favor of modelers and adoption of new technology like the Source Audio Hot Hand is indicative of an approach untethered from tradition.
As Joe Gore says here, his last demo was more about imitating other instruments with the new Fishman TriplePlay synth guitar system. Here he shows some of the potential for creating otherworldly sounds using this new wireless MIDI controller for guitar.
A typical jazz guitarist might record a collection of tunes by, or associated with, important influences. Eivind Aarset is no one’s idea of a typical jazz guitarist, but his first record for ECM, Dream Logic, echoes his early influences, as well as some more recent ones.
Though “Homage to Greene” inadvertently misspells the name of the British guitarist who formed the original Fleetwood Mac, it perfectly captures the blues player’s more ambient side, as heard in the Mac’s first hit single, “Albatross.”
Not one to dwell in the past, the larger portion of Dream Logic reveals the influence of Aarset’s recent collaborators. The Norwegian guitarist has engaged in much performance and remix work with Dream Logic producer and sampler wizard, Jan Bang, and the inspiration of their past pairing hovers over cuts like “Black Silence,” “Active,” and “Reactive.” They have also worked together with Jon Hassell, and elements of that groundbreaking trumpeter’s work infect “The Beauty of Decay,” with Aarset’s harmonized guitar recalling Hassell’s seminal use of that effect.
Eivind Aarset was fittingly the first interview subject featured in Guitar Moderne and it was a pleasure to catch up with him again. Here he goes into detail about how he created the sounds on the new record.
Guitars and distortion go together like hip-hop and hoodies. All the guitar-oriented software modelers offer astoundingly accurate emulations of classic and modern amp and pedal distortion.
Izotope’s Trash 2 ($249) can be configured to produce warm, tube-like drive too, but that is not what it is about. From its inception, Trash has literally pushed the envelope of all things distortion, and, as they say in advertising, much, much more.
The 2013 Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show had the most palpable excitement of any NAMM in the last five years. Whether from the rising economy, or because with the death of record sales, musicians need more instruments to play live, who can say? The bottom line is: this show was alive with fantastic new technology, much of it of special interest to the modern guitarist. There was way more than I can cover alone, but these were the products I found most interesting. Read on for words, pix, and vids of this year’s extravaganza. Keep in mind that NAMM unofficially stands for Not Available Maybe March (or May), so check the company sites for shipping dates.
Oz Noy in the Seymour Duncan booth, with Steve Ferrone and Darryl Jones. Poor kid can’t muster up a decent rhythm section.
People love lists; at least the majority of publications seem to think so. They stir up controversy, which attracts attention. Thus I feel almost obligated to offer a year’s best list, for this, our first year of publication.
Keep in mind that the top twelve, listed in no particular order, merely represents the recordings, released this year (ish), that I found myself returning to over the course of time. In the spirit of Guitar Moderne, I list them primarily to incite readers to check them out. They by no means are meant to be an “objective” list of the “best” recordings of the year, but only the ones that I heard and personally responded to—my best, if you will. They very much reflect my own taste and your list will undoubtedly vary. By all means chime in and let me know what you think I missed.