Guitar Moderne Record Picks: Best of 2022

Well, here they are: my ten faves from 2022; a little late (okay a lot late), but it would be a shame if you missed out on any of these terrific releases from the past twelve months. I urge you to go back through the Record Pick posts throughout the year to check out other fine recordings that didn’t make the cut. So, in no particular order.

Mike Baggetta Everywhen We Go [Big Ego Records]

In recent years, Baggetta has firmed up his place along Nels Cline, David Torn, and Bill Frisell as a guitarist whose style is a stellar example of facing forward. Here, he returns to the trio that launched him into the public eye. Along with drum legend Jim Kelttner and post-punk bass legend Mike Watt, he serves up a bouquet of modern guitar, from the lonely surfer sound of the title track, to the layered textures of solo performance “In The Center,” to the fuzzed out frenzy of “Yank It Out.” Required listening.

Stephan Thelen Fractal Guitar 3 [Moonjune Records]

Thelen is joined on guitar by Eivind Aarset: electric guitar, e-bow, effects, noise orchestra, Markus Reuter: touch guitar U8, Jon Durant: fretless guitar, clouds, Bill Walker: glitchy Strat, yinyang guitar, koto guitar, Barry Cleveland: bowed cymbals and guitars, guitar, psychedelic soundscapes and effects. What else do you need to know?

Julian Lage View With A Room [Blue Note]

Lage’s latest features Bill Frisell on a number of tunes. Anyone who has seen their duets on YouTube knows it is a perfect pairing. Here he is as he appears on a few tracks sans Frisell.

Dagger Moth The Sun is a Violent Place [Bandcamp]

Sara Ardizonni a/k/a Dagger Moth has released an ambitious Covid project of songs she recorded almost entirely on her own. Layered modern guitar textures compliment the ambivalence and anxiety of the lyrics and Ardizonni’s impassioned vocals.

J. Peter Schwalm & Stephan Thelen Transneptunian Planets [Rare Noise Records]

Electronics whiz Schwalm is joined by minimalist guitarist/composer Thelen of Sonar, Eivind Aarset, and others in what I predicted would be be one of the picks of the year. Thelen’s Crimson-esque rhythms combined with Schwalm’s atmospheres, as well as more atmospheres and some serious soloing by Aarset make this a must have.

Seabrook /Cooper-Moore/Gerald Cleaver In the Swarm [Astral Spirits]

This latest from guitarist Brandon Seabrook finds him playing with drummer Cleaver and diddley bow artist Cooper-Moore. The low-tuned diddley bow provides a surprisingly fat bass bed for Seabrook’s banjo excursions, as well as skronk and ambient guitar. Seabrook’s excellent production makes this often atonal music extremely palatable. In the Swarm is unlike anything you have heard and something you definitely should.

Ches Smith/ Craig Taborn/ Mat Maneri/ Bill Frisell Interpret It Well [Pyroclastic]

For this record, Smith added Frisell to his trio with keyboard player Taborn and Maneri on viola. The guitarist fits right in, helping them create music that beautifully blurs the line between composition and improvisation. (Bonus here’s a full live concert)

Harry Christelis & Pedro Velasco Scribble [Ubuntu Music]

British guitarist Christelis and British-based Portuguese guitarist Velasco offer a duo set that mixes elegiac melody with modern noises. Be sure to check out the record Christelis recently relased, Nurture the Child/Challenge the Adult, as well as my interview with him coming soon.

Elliott Sharp and Eric Mingus Songs from a Rogue State [Zoar Records]

People often wonder what Hendrix might have sounded like today, had he lived. It could well have been something like the combination of Sharp’s blues informed, avant guitar approach coupled with Mingus’ Jimi-like half-spoken singing. Though each has a style all their own, the combo cannot help but recall the adventurous songs of the Sixties icon.

Stian Westerhus  Stian Westerhus w/ special guests – live in Berlin, 6th of December 2019 [Bandcamp]

In lieu of a studio release from Stian Westerhus last year he offered this unedited live recording from the 6th of December 2019, at the Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra’s festival Kosmostage at Radialsystem in Berlin. The first part of the concert is him solo on guitar and vocals, improvising on the tunes from Amputation. The last three pieces features four musicians from the AMEO (Maria Schneider, Anna Viechtl, Isabelle Klemt and Fabiana Striffle



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