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  • Spectra - Guitar in the 21st Century
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Spectra - Guitar in the 21st Century

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Audio CD, February 19, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This collection of works aims to provide an international perspective for the unconventional sounds that can be generated from the guitar. The scope of the music is wide, and the voices are unique. The unifying thread for the album, however, is the modern version of the instrument itself - moving into new and larger dynamic and harmonic ranges with seemingly endless possibilities. Continuing with the legacy of innovation that the guitar has represented with its composers, performers, and luthiers, Spectra is a breathing artifact containing hybrid music for the guitar as an acoustic, electronic, and meta-instrument.


Spectra - Guitar in the 21st Century comprises experimental works by Tetuzi Akiyama (Tokyo), Sebastien Roux (Paris), Kim Myhr (Oslo), Duane Pitre (New York), Cory Allen (Austin), Erdem Helvacioglu (Istanbul), Keith Rowe, Jandek, and label founder Mike Vernusky (Texas). Although the album opens with solo acoustic guitar (Akiyama's Three Small Pieces), the compositions are generally electro-acoustic in nature, ranging from a single guitar processed through elaborate electronics (Helvacioglu's majestic The End of the World) to small ensembles (Pitre's droning Music For Microtonal Guitars and Mallets ) to mysterious noise paintings that offer few clues as to their origin (Rowe's Fragment From A Response To Cardew's Treatise ). Whatever the means of production, if you are tired of the same old types of guitar tones and music, or merely curious as to what lies in the outer reaches of 6-stringdom, these intriguing and often brilliant recordings will open your eyes, your ears, and very likely your mind. Highly recommended. Barry Cleveland, Guitar Player Magazine --Guitar Player Magazine

There are several rather exceptional tracks here: Six (by Sebastian Roux and Kim Myrh) is a slow-building piece erected upon a foundation of wavering drone and plucked harmonics. Gradually, electronically manipulated scrapes, whines, and backwards noises are added until it coheres into a rusty lurching rhythm. Nylah by Texan surrealist audio sculptor Mike Vernusky is an excellent drone piece that manages to simultaneously rumble and shimmer. The swelling washes of feedback are nicely complemented by dripping water, creaking, and a metallic industrial hum. This is quite expertly composed and produced stuff. Vernusky has an excellent feel for dynamics and texture. Austin's Cory Allen also turns in a striking drone piece. Fermion begins with an unadorned low droning tone that slowly becomes enveloped in a buzzing and pulsing cloud of textured digitally processed sound and disintegrating washes of static. Most of the other pieces on the album are chromatic, minimalist acoustic pieces (although Turkey's Erdem Helvacioglu bucks the trend by occasionally adhering to conventional scales and melody). The notable exception is Keith Rowe s (AMM) live rendition of Cornelius Cardew's Treatise, which sounds much closer to an ambient Merzbow than anything guitar-based. Eventually it winnows down to simple and recognizable feedback, but there is quite a bit of white noise, grinding, industrial roar and clatter, and possible powerdrill usage before that point. The album closes with a Jandek track ( The World Stops ) that characteristically rides the line between genius and unintentional comedy. It is intriguing that the album's curators chose this particular track, as Jandek's playing seems to consist solely of arrhythmic open string strumming on a guitar. However, it features some truly demonic atonal harmonica wailing that would make a nice centerpiece for a future Quiet Design survey of harmonica in the 21st century.

Perhaps it is a surprise that in a world filled technology, people still play the guitar. Sometimes solo, but more and more surrounded by the world of computers, picking up the sound and making treatments of the sound. On this compilation we find examples of both ends - from the empty, sparse notes of Tetuzi Akiyama to the guitar disappearance from Cory Allen, where the instrument seemingly gets lost in the computer. And everything in between those parameters. Eight pieces which are all around seven to ten minutes, so that we get a clear picture of what these musicians do. There are some names here of whom I never heard like Kim Myhr and Mike Vernusky, but mostly its people with some reputation on the scene like Sebastian Roux, Duane Pitre, Erdem Helvacioglu and two old masters of the guitar, Keith Rowe and Jandek, the latter adding, in his true outsider position, some voice to the strings. Its quite a strong compilation, a fine showcase of what these people do, with outstanding pieces by Duane Pitre and Keith Rowe - although from an entirely different end of things. (FdW) --Vital Weekly

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Three Small PiecesTetuzi Akiyama 6:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. SixSebastien Roux & Kim Myhr 6:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. NylahMike Vernusky 7:30$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Music for Microtonal Guitars and MalletsDuane Pitre 7:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. FermionCory Allen 6:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. The End of the WorldErdem Helvacio?lu10:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Fragment From a Response to Cardew's TreatiseKeith Rowe 8:23$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. The World StopsJandek 8:55$0.99  Buy MP3 

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