Last year, I interviewed James Moore from the Dither Guitar Quartet around the time he released his record performing the entirety of John Zorn’s The Book of Heads. This set me on a path examining the place of the electric guitar in contemporary “classical” music. I recently posted a two-part interview with Tim Brady, where we discussed this fascinating (at least to me) subject. With this month’s release of Dither’s fantastic record, Potential Differences [New Focus Recordings], I deemed it time to talk to one of the Quartet’s founders, Taylor Levine, about how they manage to make the electric guitar sound like a natural vehicle for modern composed music. Again, the conversation ranged wide and so there will be a Part II. Please subscribe to find out when the post goes up.
With the Xmas season fast approaching, this Swiss label could provide one-stop shopping for all the modern guitar records you need to please fellow fans or yourself. This small label offers over 250 recordings, many of which feature pioneers (Fred Frith, Elliot Sharp) and current stars (Mary Halvorson, Kurt Rosenwinkel) of modern guitar. It is also a great place to discover new players from Europe (Dominic Landolt, Vojko Huter).
The Chords of Orion YouTube channel is an invaluable resource for modern guitarists. Bill Vencil’s focus is ambient music, but he covers gear of interest to any modern guitarist. I was unaware of the Joyo device. It makes me wonder if the EBow patent has run out. I compared the Aeon and the EBow in my Electronic Musician column, but a head to head (to head) video comparison is very welcome.
In February of 2019, I was flown up to Montreal to cover composer/guitarist Tim Brady’s evening of 150 guitars for Guitar Player. You can read my coverage and interview about that here and see a sample below. Inspired by my conversation with Dither’s James Moore, after we finished Tim’s GP interview, I restarted the recorder for a wide ranging dialogue about the state of the electric guitar in today’s classical world. We covered a lot of ground so I broke it up into two posts. You can start with Part I here, but it is not necessary.
Life and website issues got in the way of doing timely NAMM reports this year. In my defense many of these products just started shipping a couple of months ago. As has become habit, there were hundreds of cool pedals on offer, mostly variations on pedals you have seen and heard.
With NAMM 2020 coming up, I thought I would do a listing of the things I saw last year that might be different and of more interest to the modern guitarist. The theme in January seemed to be the return of modulation (flange, chorus, and phase), fuzz/harmonizer combos, and guitar synth pedals. I am featuring only what I consider to be the most interesting takes on each. Please check company websites for details.