We live in a world of post Frisell-ian guitarists. A couple of generations have grown up influenced by this modern master’s use of space and effects. His influence shows more in some than others and, and, in fairness, his style is so idiosyncratic that it can be hard to find a unique identity under his musical spell. Still, British guitarist, Harry Christelis has managed that feat, learning all the right lessons while carving out a sound of his own through masterful, personal use of a different set of effects, and finding his own compositional and performing voice. We find out how, among other things, in our wide ranging interview.
Well, here they are: my ten faves from 2022; a little late (okay a lot late), but it would be a shame if you missed out on any of these terrific releases from the past twelve months. I urge you to go back through the Record Pick posts throughout the year to check out other fine recordings that didn’t make the cut. So, in no particular order.
If you are a modern guitarist you need to know about Rainger FX pedals. In the world of effects manufacturers, it sometimes seems that, not only are there too many versions of a tube screamer, but that even with the more modern effects, i.e. glitch, micro-loopers, etc., effects manufacturers are often releasing variations on a theme—not so David Rainger.
At first glance, his pedals can seem like some random gimmick, designed to be willfully different. Further investigation reveals that, for starters, their basic sounds are uniformly terrific: musical, lush, warm—all the usual coveted qualities. It’s just that on top of that Rainger has added functions that demand creativity, often inspired by non-guitar music like hip-hop and synth-based songs. It is a joy to watch his pedals force Mick and Dan into new sonic territory and the palpable joy it brings them. (Check out my review of the Mini Bar here)
It has been fascinating to watch the expansion of electric guitar into the “classical” realm over the last 30 or 40 years. I have been privileged to have had interesting and enlightening discussions with two guitarist/composers working in this field: Tim Brady and James Moore. Israel has been exporting excellent guitarists for a while now: Gilad Hekselman, Oz Noy to name but two. Add to the list Yaron Deutsch. Working in the classical/new music realm he turns in an astonishing performance here, demonstrating a wealth of extended techniques, developed in the improvised music realm, which are showing up more and more in composed works.
I was pretty sure he would outlive me. He was only four years older and in better shape. I am having a hard time imagining a world without him.
He eschewed the “live fast, die young” credo held dear by so many of his rock star peers. He was about the work, when he deigned to work; often he preferred his hot rods. He was in that select club of musicians who grow, change, and experiment as they age: Jim Hall, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, I run out of names pretty quickly. He was the one that got away; the only player I would have loved to interview, or even meet, but never got the chance. (I did get to hold one of his guitars in the Hard Rock Cafe vault in London).