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2017 release from the veteran British guitarist. Andy Summers rose to fame in the early 1980's as the guitarist of the multi-million record selling rock band - The Police. The Police were the #1 band of the time and dominated the music scene and the media in the '80s with several #1 records. Summers' innovative guitar playing created a new paradigm for guitarists in this period and has been widely imitated ever since. After the band's dramatic exit from the music scene, Summers continued to develop his interest in photography as well touring, recording as a solo artist, composing for films, writing books, and exhibiting his photography. Triboluminescence is the follow up recording by Andy Summers to his 2016 release Metal Dog. In this release, Summers once again delves into the deep exotic textures which characterized Metal Dog saying that part of his quest is always to find fresh if not alien sounds that avoid all the standard electric guitar clichés. "We are now living in a world of a billion guitarists" he says "so the struggle to swim upstream, sound different and make original music has become more difficult, but then maybe that is a good challenge. I play for an audience of one - yours truly. Maybe it's the music of narcissism-although that's not how I think of it- but I have to end up with something that I like outside of commercial concerns - but if you are in the game these days you face a barrage of likes and dislikes. Everyone is a critic now...". But if Summers takes a position on his music he proves it with the disparate exotic threads and lyricism heard on the tracks of Triboluminescence - generated from non-standard tunings hammered guitars in tandem, looping, baritone guitar, terz guitar percussion and fretless bass and cello. Summers plays all instruments on the album apart from cello by Artyom Manukian
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For the longest time, I had held out hope that Andy Summers would create another album similar in vein to his first two solo instrumental efforts, Mysterious Barricades (1988) and The Golden Wire (1989), which feature his compositions and guitar playing at their most transcendental and sublime. Triboluminescence rekindles the spirit of those original records, but on a whole other level, and the result is absolutely delightful.
Expounding upon his explorations of self-sufficient sonic possibilities begun with the 2015 industrial tech whack offering Metal Dog, Summers exceeds that accomplishment, using his guitars and other instruments (and cheating slightly with the collusion of cellist Artyom Manukyan on one track) to create alien and otherworldly sounds that transport you into a wondrous dimension of exhilarating sensory perception.
Standout tunes include the haunting “If Anything,” “Elephant Bird” (classic Andy Summers), "Gigantopithecus" (psychedelic reggae rock), “Ricochet” (bluesy funk), the eerie and enigmatic "Sam and Janet" (with a special cameo by "Metal Dog" from the album of the same name), and “Help from Jupiter” (spacey shades of Barricades and Bewitched). (The latter three tracks are digital/vinyl exclusives.)
Summers described his personal musical direction in the late 1980s and early 1990s as “new fusion.” He calls his unique stylings on Triboluminescence “new exotic.” I myself like to think of it as “new mysterious.”
Without a doubt, Triboluminescence certainly ranks as one of Andy Summers’ best albums (it's my personal favorite), right up there with his Private Music catalog, as well as Synaesthesia and Earth + Sky. It is also solid and demonstrable proof that at age 74, Andy Summers is still very much in his prime – and still very much in the top tier of guitar masters.
First, I like the music. I think Andy did a great job on the writing and performing. I was really looking forward to this album. It sounds like it could really have been a great sounding album.
On my first listen, I found my self turning the volume lower and lower as I listened. I ended up turning down to 50dB SPL (from 68dB SPL - my typical setting for loudly compressed music (74dB SPL for older recordings and non-compressed music)) to get to a place where it wasn't uncomfortable. This a little lower than typical conversation level. Most of the album is highly compressed. There are a few spots, where the level drops, but, due to the compression, it sounds awkward. I find this album difficult to enjoy and fatiguing to listen to. I know that this level of mastering is the new norm, but, it doesn't sound professional to me. It doesn't sound thoughtful or sympathetic to the music. I believe this album could have been mastered differently to be a joy to listen to. That is what I was expecting as the reviews were likening this to Jazz and New Age music. I expected that the quality of the sound was going to be an important factor. I was disappointed.
A contemporary masterpiece.