Modern electric guitar music has, at times, suffered from bouts of sameness. Employing techniques pioneered over a half century ago by Derek Bailey and Fred Frith, guitarists fanatically avoid repetitive rhythmic and/or melodic motifs and use similar preparations, to the point where they all sound virtually identical. Perhaps the form had to go through growing pains.
More recently, whether due to more schooled guitarists entering the field with wider technical skills and musical tastes, or the many new processors that allow a wealth of distinctive tones, a plethora of players, from all over the world, are creating personal voices within this idiom. The records here, solo and band, emanate from Italy, Argentina, and the US, each with its own approach to modern guitar performance.
Though live music shows are starting again, it is with limited audiences—hence limited money, so it would help these artists if you were to buy their recordings. Also, it will give you something to do all while we all wait this out.
Guitars A Go Go Travel Advisory [Bad Egg Records]
Upstate New York guitarists Rick Warren and Sal Cataldi create soundscapes ranging from ethnic-non-specific jigs to ambient moods using a variety of instruments and effects.
Riccardo Murtas In The Silver Mirror Of Your Eyes [Bandcamp]
A gorgeous, live, one take recording by Italian fretless guitarist Murtas. The highly reverberant tones that go from bell-like, to industrial hum, to near subliminal over its three parts are extremely evocative.
Wenchi Lazo Embudo [Bandcamp]
From Argentina, Lazo brings an assortment of “tunes” that employ distorted assaults, tuba-like bass notes supporting jaunty harmonics, scrapes, and scratches to great effect.
Harvey Valdes & Álvaro Domene Nueva Guitarra [Iluso Records]
Guitarists Valdes and Domene bond over their shared love of both heavy music and free improv. Though there are more contemplative moments, Nueva Guitarra is not for the faint of heart, as the duo explore the overtones of clashing, and meshing distorted guitar.
Lotus Lungs Right Brain Records Presents Guitar Improv Summit Vol. 1: Lotus Lungs [Right Brain Records]
Experimental guitarists Matt Benham, Bill Horist and Tom Scully are features on this cool label’s Guitar Improv series first compilation. The trio used three formations: acoustic, electric and prepared guitars. We look forward to many more.
No Base Trio No Base Trio [Setola di Maiale]
Over a decade of performing in Puerto Rico, saxophonist Jonathan Suazo, drummer Leonardo Osuna, and guitarist Gabriel Vicéns have developed a unique trio sound. Sometimes it is built on repeating ostinatos from Vicéns as Osuna creates variety, other times the three musicians each enter and subside, giving shape to their free-form excursions.
Jon Durant/Robert Jürjendal Across the Evening [Alchemy Records]
Ambient experimental guitarists Jon Durant and Robert Jürjendal are joined by appearances from Colin Edwin on bass, Aleksei Saks on trumpet, and Andi Pupato on percussion, for a set of beautifully recorded, soothing atmospheres that provide a respite from some of the noisier offerings in this month’s picks.
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 mention. Many of these are available from DMG in NYC. If you have already sent me a recording, please feel free to remind me.