Guitar Moderne Top Records of 2021

Despite plague, lockdown, transportation issues, and touring revenue loss, a surprising number of artists managed to release new material last year. Current modern guitar legends, Eivind Aarset, Stian Westerhus, and Nels Cline all make appearances. Legends in the making Ádám Mészáros, Tim Motzer, Nick Milevoi, and Eyal Maoz’s chime in as well. On a sad note, rumor has it that the Rare Noise label is folding. They are going out with a bang though, contributing three records to this year’s list. I hope I am misinformed.

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Guitar Moderne Record Picks XXIV

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!

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Warped Dreamer With Stian Westerhus

When Stian Westerhus posted on his Facebook page about participating on a new record it sent me down a rabbit hole that led to one of the best modern improvising ensembles I have ever seen. One of Belgian drummer Teun Verbruggen’s many projects is a quartet called Warped Dreamer, featuring himself on drums and electronics, Arve Henriksen on trumpet and electronics, Stian on guitar and electronics, and Jozef Dumoulin on Fender Rhodes and electronics. These videos from 2014 show how four top-notch instrumentalists, who are also highly conversant with the use of processing and electronics, can come together to make dynamic, boundry-less but cohesive music. Beautifully shot and recorded, it is a shame that it doesn’t exist as an unedited whole, if only because it feels like a few minutes are missing here and there. Still, it is necessary viewing for any modern guitarist. Look for the new record on Consouling Sounds February 26.

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The Stian Westerhus Interview

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.

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