With the release of The Intercontinentals, Bill Frisell invites us into a lush and verdant musical world. On this outing he has chosen to work with five superb musicians from various parts of the planet. The eclectic range of instruments employed herein include electric and acoustic guitars, subtle electronics, calabash, djembe, vocals, oud, bouzouki, pedal steel guitar, and violin. This music reminds me of the color green in the way it surges with masterful precision, swells with quiet drama, recedes into mystery, and tumbles back in upon itself with self-referential musings that reveal new insights into its true nature.
The aptly-named The Intercontinentals is filled with deep memories of traveling through time and place. Overall, I am struck by the similarity between the feel of this album and, oddly enough, Brian Eno's Another Green World : as on Eno's masterpiece, Frisell's compositions tend to turn in on themselves to create individual sonic worlds composed of their own inner logic; and, like Eno's pieces, each compostion fits well with the others and creates a powerful song cycle that renders the entire album quite compelling. This recording could have been called "The Big Green Circle" because of the way it feelsvibrant, shimmering, inviting, and continually arcing in upon itself.
Frisell has always had a talent for picking the right people to join him, and most of the time he achieves great results from his particular brand of fusion. With the release of The Intercontinentals he has reached new ground and expanded his compositional nexus. He keeps pushing the limits of what he knows in his own quiet amicable fashion and continues to develop his musical voice in a brave and accessible direction. Frisell is a humble and unobtrusive 'guitar hero.' It is obvious from the inspired work of every musician on this recording that they can relate to what Frisell had written for themthey also cover tunes by Boubacar Traore, Gilberto Gil, Christos Govetas, and Vinicius Cantuariaand find plenty of room to express their individual voices within these structures. Every player weaves his part of this puzzle well, and the results are mesmerizing.
Frisell has given us an album where African percussion, Middle Eastern oud, Brazilian guitar, Portuguese song, American country twang, Classical violin, and 'bent beyond repair' jazz harmonies live together in harmony. It is a joyful world view, one I am glad he decided to share.