If you are like me, you could stare covetously at the beautiful Island Instruments 12-string he is playing for the whole 20 minutes. But while doing so, Phelps gives great insight into his process when making loops with his desktop system.
If anyone were to be into pedals it would be the modern guitarist. Granted there are a few who play only acoustic, and even fewer who exclusively play plugged straight into the amplifier, but the majority of modern guitarists are to some extent looking to find new sounds in the electric realm and pedals help them go there. The firmament of modern guitar heaven is filled with gods who use a plethora of stompboxes in their quest for sonic freshness. Adrian Belew, Nels Cline, Eivind Aarset, Stian Westerhus, David Torn, Nick Reinhardt, and others employ effect pedals as an essential part of their artistry.
For them, and guitarists of all stripes, this year has seen the release of, not one, but two books (actually three) devoted to these playable, collectable, fetish-encouraging devices.
I have often extolled Downtown Music Gallery in New York as a great place to order records by many of the artists I cover. I have also found it to be a terrific resource for discovering new modern guitarists.
Their periodic email blast often lists records featuring players that have escaped my attention and sends me scurrying to YouTube to check them out. Patrick Higgins is one such guitarist. He is also a composer of note on the modern classical scene. How he has remained unknown to me over a decade of touring and recording, I have no idea, but I hopefully have rectified that for you here.
Patrick was on his iPhone and on the move when we did the interview, so if you suffer from motion sickness, you might want to just listen. Either way, you will find our conversation rewarding.
Stian Westerhus and Eivind Aarset were two of the main guitarists that led me to found Guitar Moderne. With their obvious technical skills, command of analog and digital effects, and rock star charisma, they made it easy to get excited about new forms of guitar playing. Stian has just released a recording of a live set from DOKK-huset in Trondheim Norway, available on Bandcamp. Even though half the performance is Westerhus processing his vocals, there is plenty of astounding guitar. If you purchase the audio recording, you get access to a beautifully shot video of the live performance. We talked about the record and many, many other things.
Well, it’s a done deal: NAMM 2021 is not happening; at least not in person. Companies had already begun to release new products throughout the year, a trend that will no doubt increase with no centralized show for which to save them. So… I will endeavor to up my new product release coverage, of course concentrating on those of interest to modern guitarists. First up, a cool bit reducer from EHX. and then a couple of new pedals in the Boss looper line.