How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Over three days in July, 2011 guitarist Dom Minasi entered Studio 104 in New York and recorded seven solo electric guitar improvisations. The tunes, gathered together as Looking Out, Looking In, form Minasi's first ever solo album.
The guitarist is an experienced improviser with an extensive discography. He's capable of impressive flights of musical fancy, of inspired and inspiring ideas. Minasi's previous 2011 release, The Bird, The Girl & The Donkey (Re:konstruKt) featured some intense and challenging interplay between Minasi and the rest of his quintet. On his own, he remains an imaginative player, with more than enough ideas to keep the music fresh and engaging. Minasi achieved this freshness, at least in part, by recording no more than three pieces each day and by starting his improvisations without warming up first.
Minasi's playing is melodic and fluid, and while his tone is predominantly warm and welcoming he's not averse to creating some more disquieting sounds. Towards the end of "Looking Out," the thirteen-minute opener, there's a distinctive buzz, as if an idle snare drum is vibrating in sympathy with Minasi's lower-register runs. Its sudden appearance adds an initial element of tension to the tune, as well as bolstering its percussive intensity.
The buzz makes a re-appearance on "Looking In," an otherwise gentle and reflective piece. Indeed, if it was played on an acoustic, gut-strung, guitar much of "Looking In" would not be out of place at a classical recital. "Looking In Again And Again" is another strongly melodic tune, but one which steers a more romantic path. On "Looking Out Again And Again," Minasi creates the effect of playing under waterthe result is both amusing and quietly disturbing.
Solo improvisation may lack the frisson of excitement that comes from the sudden and unexpected exchanges between musicians in an ensemble setting but Looking Out, Looking In offers other pleasures. There may be a buzz in some of the musicthere certainly should be one about the music.
Track Listing: Looking Out; Looking In; Looking Out Again; Looking In Again; Looking Out Again And Again; Looking In Again And Again; Looking Out Looking Out.