A delightful combination of new and old faces. Stalwarts Stian Westerhus, Todd Clouser, Eyal Maoz, Álvaro Domene, and Killick Hinds join recent discoveries Colin Fisher, Dean Sanromieri, Craig Chin, and Jeremy Baysse for a spate of great sounding recordings. Lockdown or no lockdown, Covod or no Covid, music will be made!
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.
One of the younger modern guitar maestros, Anthony Pirog knows nothing of stylistic limitations—his music is beyond category, embracing not only jazz, but avant-garde and indie rock, free improvisation, electronic sound, and ambient soundscapes.
Pirog has himself established with his work as one-half of the duo Janel & Anthony, the electric jazz improvisational Five Times Surprise, the classic DC-scene twang inspired Music From The Anacostia Delta, and the exciting trio Messthetics, with Brendan Canty and Joe Lally, the rhythmic section from Fugazi.
His new solo record, Pocket Poem, features the same musicians as 2015’s Palo Colorado Dream: acoustic bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Ches Smith. For this trio record Pirog wanted to layer the compositions with sounds created using modern technology and vintage guitar synthesizers. All of which and more we discuss here.
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.
I first interviewed Knox in 2014. He is a session guitarist who worked with the Psychedelic Furs, R.E.M, and others.. He toured with Siouxsie and the Banshees and Cyndi Lauper, and toured and recorded with Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan. In 2012, Knox moved from New York City to Berlin, where he plays and teaches. We talk about the move, his evolution from rock guitarist to a roots-meets-iPad artist and his new project with Eric Mingus, Bursting Blue Bone Bark. We also discuss the brilliance of Chris Whitley, his unlikely dragooning into becoming a cellist, and more. Check out the performance videos either before or after watching the interview.