October offers an international cornucopia of fantastic recordings from modern legends like Eivind Aarset and Elliott Sharp and newer faces like Álvaro Domene and Guillame Gargaud. This month also serves up a bassist, and a record from Nashville that sounds like it could have come out of Norway.
Eivind Aarset Phantasmagoria, or A Different Kind of Journey [Jazzland]
Aarset is back in band mode with his compatriots of almost a decade: Wetle Holte, Erland Dahlen and Audun Erlien. This record proves that when musicians of this caliber play together for that long the results are often spectacular.
Dark Star Safari Walk Through Lightly [Arjunamusic Records]
Aarset’s collaboration with Jan Bang, Erik Honoré, and Samuel Rohrer returns with the addition of John Derek Bishop on live sampling, bass, and “treatments.” Once again there is no avoiding a comparison of Bang’s voice to Bowie’s and David Sylvain’s. And, while that can make one sad about the missed opportunity for these brilliant musicians to back up Bowie (some have worked with Sylvain), they have fortunately found a compelling sound of their own. Now all we can wish for is a tour.
Elliott Sharp Kármán Line [Zoar Records]
The “Kármán line” is both an abstract construct and a geopolitical definition created to delineate the upper border of Earth’s atmosphere and the beginning of “outer space.” Performed on a Godin Duet Multiac electroacoustic guitar with a fretless neck and tuned in the baritone range, Sharp extracts an amazing array of sounds using extended techniques and EBow but no other preparations or objects.
Here he is doing something similar over a decade ago:
Jo Berger Myhre Unheimlich Manoeuvre [Rare Noise]
Bassist Myhre has released a set of sparse, beautiful compositions that center around gorgeous sound as much as notes. He is joined at a social distance by remote contributions from a number of collaborators, including Iranian tombak player Kaveh Mahmudiyan; Iceland’s Ólafur Björn Ólafsson on organ; vocalist Vivian Wang; and Norwegians Jo David Meyer Lysne (guitar), Jana Anisimova (piano), and Morten Qvenild (synth) Each instrument’s tone is perfectly produced and captured, and they blend together to create a timeless, distinctive sound.
Jü III [Rare Noise Records]
Hungarian guitarist Ádám Mészáros is joined by a band of countrymen, bassist Ernő Hock, and drummer András Halmos, for a set that spans rock, prog, free jazz, and ambient, underscored by Eastern European rhythms. A Southeast Asian influence derived from gamelan and devotional songs of India is added to the mix, as are guests: vocalist Dóra Győrfi and electronic musician Bálint Bolcsó. Somehow it all joins in a glorious whole of unique, energetic music.
Guillame Gargaud 17 Compositions for Guitar [New Focus Recordings]
For this record, Gargaud, on steel string acoustic, imposed constraints on the composing process, choosing primarily dissonant intervals for chords and counterpoints. The results prove that with a flawless, yet still emotional performance, and magnificent tone, the atonal can become beautiful.
An improvisation that is in the spirit of these compositions.
Ben Rice Winter Song [Bandcamp]
With titles like “Oslo,” “Gjallerhorn,” and “Stige,” you might think Rice hails from Scandinavia rather than Nashville. The music too has the modern, sparse, lyrical approach one finds in so much jazz from Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Occasional reverse guitar keeps the proceedings in the modern vein. (Not to be confused with Nashville blues guitarist Ben Rice).
Álvaro Pérez & Álvaro Domene Radical Accretion [Iluso Records]
Saxophonist Pérez and guitarist Álvaro Domene create a duo sound that is orchestral, using processing to hint at other instruments from strings to bagpipes. Despite liberal use of distortion, the results are often bucolic. A brilliant outing.
Record Picks is a periodic offering from Guitar Moderne: a listing of recordings brought to my attention that I feel are worthy of being brought to yours. These are not reviews. Feel free to submit recordings, but they must be purchasable worldwide, reflective of modern guitar (subjective to be sure, but no blues, classic rock, be-bop, country, etc.) and on a par with the ones above to rate a