2013 that is—ten records this year; many more were released but only these seemed essential. Keep in mind that these, listed in no particular order, merely represent the recordings released this year (ish) that I found myself returning to over the course of time.
In the spirit in which Guitar Moderne exists, I list them primarily to excite readers about checking 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. 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.
Hedvig Mollestad Trio All of Them Witches
The sound of Hedvig Mollestad (Thomassen)’s instrumental trio spans classic power rock trio, Terje Rypdal’s distinctively Norwegian approach, and math rock, to conjure up an original brew of its own.
Bill Walker Sanctuary
Bill Walker’s rootsy loop work could easily be mistaken for an actual band performing. The California guitarist avoids any hint of static repetition, rather Walker’s performances are marvels of spontaneous composition; though enhanced by seeing him construct them, their musical interest does not rely on it.
Bushman’s Revenge Thou Shalt Boogie!
The addition of organ makes TSB sound as if Deep Purple had dumped their singer and progressed into the 21rst century. Even Helte Hermansen continues to meld great rock tone with a jazz sensibility and a joyful playing style that helps him reinvent the F(usion) word.
Mystical Weapons Crotesque 12″
Mystical Weapons is a collaboration between Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier and Sean Lennon. Yeah, that Sean Lennon. Crotesque is 20 minutes of instrumental jamming that ebbs and flows musically, aggressive without becoming assaultive, remaining listenable by virtue of Lennon’s cool tones and the group’s dynamics. More Sonny Sharrock than Beatles.
David Kollar The Son
Slovakian guitarist David Kollar’s atmospheric work recalls Eivind Aarset’s solo recordings and time as sideman to Nils Petter Molvaer, while Kollar’s noisier interjections bring to mind Stian Westerhus’ experiments with pedals. It is the tension and release of atmosphere and noise that lend The Son the power to convey the strong emotions Kollar suffered during the illness of his son—feelings that inspired the recording.
Noveller New Dreams
Sarah Lipstate, performing as Noveller, employs effects and live looping to create the multi-faceted, emotionally evocative compositions at live shows and on her self-produced records. On New Dreams she takes her soundscapes to the next level.
Dustin Wong Meditation of Ecstatic Energy
Wong’s looping guitar has roots in the minimalism of Glass and Reich but is capable of side trips to atmospheres or complex syncopation. To see him perform his pieces live is to marvel at his precision and multi-tasking prowess.
Pat Metheny Tap: John Zorn’s Book of Angels Vol 20
What do you get when you take one of the world’s most technically proficient and technology savvy guitarists and combine his innate lyricism and love of adventure with material from Downtown New York’s angel of avant? Something like this.
Eric Chenaux Guitar & Voice
If you think falsetto vocals somewhere between Antony Hegarty and Kenny Rankin, guitar playing that somehow reconciles Rankin, Derek Bailey, and Robert Fripp, combined with drones that recall Norwegian fiddle music, you might be able to conjure up the sound of Toronto’s Eric Chenaux.
Sleep Gunner Plays the Louvin Brothers Songbook, Vol. 1
A couple of Dutch guitarists take country classics and deconstruct them with reverence, humor, and abandon. Not technically a release but available in spots on the interweb.