Go ahead – I DARE you to classify guitarist Stefan Dill’s 1997 release Sangre Del Rio into any one musical genre. After listening to the 74 minute work of art several times, I decided the genre it most fit was “Free-Form Guitar Tuning, Banging and Noodling Accompanied Occasionally by a Lady Playing a Harp,” but I found that to be a bit unwieldy. So I compromised and came up with “Experimental Free-Form Classical Flamenco,” which is about as precise as I could get. Both explanations are pretty much on target, though.
In Sangre Del Rio, Dill has come up with an innovative but somewhat bizarre musical style. The only consistency with the music is its inconsistency – Dill seems to almost flaunt the music’s lack of structure. Despite Dill’s prowess as a Flamenco guitarist, you will not hear DuLucia-like runs very often on the album; Dill instead opts to engage in some very experimental playing, almost never letting an entire idea finalize before moving on to something different. There is some excellent classical playing on tracks such as “Viento Rojo” and “Hijo,” but for the most part the CD is filled with strange chords, unsettling melodies, and a ton of “guitar percussion.”
So while Dill is certainly to be commended for standing apart from the crowd in terms of musical styles, the question becomes “Is Sangre del Rio an entertaining listen?” Well, the short answer is “no”. There certainly are bits and pieces that are pleasing to listen to, but as a whole the free-form nature of the music winds up being more bane than boon. It is very hard to discern what exactly Dill was trying to accomplish with this release; at its best the songs contain some good technical playing, but at its worst the music sounds more like someone tuning their guitar for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Dill is obviously an accomplished guitarist, but I’d much rather hear some conventional playing the “un-music” released on this CD.
Track Listing: 1. Angels (3:54), 2. Rio de Espiritu (9:36), 3. Viento Rojo (10:07) 4. Homenaje a Joe Maneri, 1 (2:43), 5. Sands, Mountains Embraced, Breathing Rivers
Personnel: Stefan Dill: Guitar; Courtney Smith: Harp (Track 1)