October 16, 2020 is a banner day for modern guitar releases. Two new generation legends in the making, Mike Baggetta and Anthony Pirog have albums dropping. Baggetta’s band mssv (with Mike Watt and Stephen Hodges) is also doing a live stream tonight under the aegis of the much-missed Big Ears Festival. Look for interviews with both artists at guitarmoderne.com soon. Subscribe so you don’t miss them.
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.
Modern electric guitar music has, at times, suffered from bouts of sameness. Employing techniques pioneered over a half century ago by Derek Bailey and Fred Frith, guitarists fanatically avoid repetitive rhythmic and/or melodic motifs and use similar preparations, to the point where they all sound virtually identical. Perhaps the form had to go through growing pains.
More recently, whether due to more schooled guitarists entering the field with wider technical skills and musical tastes, or the many new processors that allow a wealth of distinctive tones, a plethora of players, from all over the world, are creating personal voices within this idiom. The records here, solo and band, emanate from Italy, Argentina, and the US, each with its own approach to modern guitar performance.
Though live music shows are starting again, it is with limited audiences—hence limited money, so it would help these artists if you were to buy their recordings. Also, it will give you something to do all while we all wait this out.
I discovered Benn Jordan’s YouTube channel, Benn and Gear through the usual side panel recommendations on the platform. I quickly realized that he is one of the most interesting musicians around. A guitarist who plays upside down and makes extensive use of the Roland VG-99, he is into boxing and MMA, has toured for years as The Flashbulb, combining metal and jazz guitar stylings, electronics, and beats, done extensive music for advertising and museum installations, and has a wicked sense of humor.
Benn Jordan doesn’t actually tell you everything you need to know about MIDI guitar, though he gives you a fair introduction. But he pulls no punches in his review of the Boss SY-1000. His dismay at the presets is more understandable when, later in the review, you get to hear his own presets, which, unlike he Boss ones, sound more like something you might have heard in the last 20 years, and harness the emotive potential of synthesis in a way that the Boss presets fail to do.