People talk about globalization as both a positive and a negative thing. Hassell’s work, like William Gibson’s later novels somehow embodies each aspect. Both artists create a feeling of dislocation: an example I use is that these days, when so many people use cell phones as their primary phones, you have no idea where anyone is calling from, despite their area code displaying itself to you.
Some great footage of modern guitarist Rick Cox playing with Jon Hassell.
For the second bassist to be featured in Guitar Moderne, I can think of no one more fitting than Peter Freeman. But to call Freeman a bass player is like calling Rick Cox, with whom he has often worked, a guitarist—true as far is goes, but hardly the whole story. Like Cox, Freeman has been heavily involved in sound design for movies, and is as likely to be found programming drums, playing synthesizer, or manipulating electronics as plucking a four-stringed instrument.
His work producing the legendary Jon Hassell, alone, has earned him an esteemed place in the annals of electroacoustic music. I first spoke to Freeman for a piece on Hassell for the late EQ magazine. I am including the transcript of that first conversation with Freeman as a bonus.
You may notice some labels making recurrent and multiple appearances on this list and from year to year. These labels have become successful, forward thinking purveyors of boundary stretching music, so it is not surprising they are attracting the best of the best. Cuneiform has a long history in this field, which makes up and coming, virtuoso Anthony Pirog a good match. Rune Grammofon continues to support the ground-breaking work of modern guitar hero Stian Westerhus, while Anti and Nonesuch are becoming the go-to labels for roots artists looking to remain relevant.
Once again this is a purely subjective list, so please let me know if you feel strongly about a record I have left off. We are fortunate so much great modern guitar music is available, but it makes it hard for one man to keep up. Happy Holidays.
Ry Cooder has called Rick Cox “…the hidden master of the crepuscular and the diaphanous.” Hidden indeed—in this era of ubiquitous Internet presence, I was hard pressed to find Cox represented. Still, you have heard him if you have ever seen The Shawshank Redemption, The Horse Whisperer, or American Beauty, where he lends his unique soundscapes to Thomas Newman’s scores. His latest release for Cold Blue is collaboration with Newman, 35 Whirlpools Below Sound. Enter the vortex with Rick Cox.