This month our Picks runneth over. Covid has been unable to stifle those who were born to create. Solo projects and remote collaborations abound, but group projects are finding their way into the mix as well. We start off with Sonar’s Stephen Thelen and all-star guests.
Stephan Thelen Fractal Guitar 2 [Moonjune Records]
Thelen corrals a Who’s Who of modern guitarists and “touch” guitarists, including David Torn, Barry Cleveland, Jon Durant, Henry Kaiser, Bill Walker, Stefan Huth, Markus Reuter, and Chris Muir, somehow wrangling a cohesive musical experience from this abundance of ringing strings.
Greg Belisle-Chi Koi [Relative Pitch Records]
Tim Berne’s music can appear dense and abstract. Armed with just a gorgeous sounding acoustic instrument, Belisle-Chi has performs his arrangements of Berne compositions for solo guitar in such a way as to make them more easily accessible, as he brings out their distinctive lyricism.
Enis Gümüş Tahkir [Bilgi Music]
Istanbul composer/guitarist/academician Gümüş offers a noisescape opus where guitar creates metallic scrapes, squeals, and shrieks in a considered and musical fashion. A soundtrack for our troubled times.
Brendan Byrnes 2227 [Bandcamp]
I always find it amazing how quickly my ear adjusts to microtonal music. Byrnes makes it even easier with great grooves, lush textures, and melodic playing. Your ear tells you there is something different, but not wrong, and the exotic tuning turns what could be just another guitar instrumental record into something more interesting.
Samo Salamon & Hasse Poulse String Dancers [Samo Records]
Samo Salamon & Francois Houle Unobservable Mysteries [Samo Records]
Slovenian jazz guitarist and composer Salamon has two releases: one with guitarist Hasse Poulse and one with clarinet player Francois Houle. The former begs comparison to the legendary John Abercrombie/Ralph Towner records, though they had the advantage of playing in the same room at the same time. Despite the restrictions of sending files instead, the terrific interplay of Salamon and Poulse could convince you that they were in the same room as well. Likewise, Salamon’s outing with Houle, where each leaves space for the other to speak, showing that listening doesn’t require the listener’s presence. Also, check out Salamon’s YouTube channel where he interviews, among others: Ben Monder and Nguyen Le.
Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel Oumuamua [Stickfigure Recordings]
Oumuamua means “a messenger from afar, arriving first” in Hawaiian. It is the name given to the first known interstellar object detected passing through our Solar System, observed in late 2017. These two instruments are uniquely suited to conjuring all the vastness and mystery that a space object might imply and as usual DFTLS’s ambience is occasionally infused with a darkness and dread, which in this case befits the subject.
Peter Uher New Reality [Bandcamp]
Guitarist Uher offers his own atmospheric, melodic, live groove-based style with the help of Braňo Valanský on bass guitar and Michal Čerevka on percussion. Trumpeter Jakob Sørensen from Denmark adds to the largely Scandinavian nu-jazz feel. Occasionally his rock roots peek through for some aggressive energy.
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.