I am heartened by how it gets harder and harder to pick the best of the year. It means that there are more and more great records of modern guitar being issued all the time. This year was made a little easier by the fact that veteran masters like David Torn, Henry Kaiser, Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, and Eivind Aarset all appeared on one or more records. The list is rounded out by younger players like Julian Lage, Max Kutner, and Anthony Pirog, as well as the introduction of new faces: Justus West, Rafiq Bhatia, and Igor Osypov.
King Crimson and Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin have proved that music can be simultaneously mathematical and emotional. Sonar, an instrumental band from Switzerland, whose first record was released on Bärtsch’s Ronin Rhythm Records, prove it once again with their second full-length album Static Motion on Cuneiform records. Stephan Thelen and Bernhard Wagner on guitar, along with bassist Christian Kuntner and drummer Manuel Pasquinelli create their own style of minimal and experimental groove music. The aim of the guitarists was to create a new sound, not by using effects and technology, but by tuning their guitars to tritones (C F# C F# C F#) and by concentrating on the harmonics of that tuning.