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Mikkel Ploug: Alleviation

Dan Bilawsky By

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Alleviation is a fascinatingly winsome document showcasing what occurs when tool serves as muse. While out and about in New York in 2016, Danish guitarist Mikkel Ploug happened upon a musical curio—a mahogany-top Gibson Banner LG-2. The instrument, essentially a wartime relic made by the (mostly) female work force in Gibson's Kalamazoo plant in the early '40s, was a worn-down wonder, preserved yet clearly put through life's demands. But the personality, quality of sound, and innate character of this guitar couldn't be dampened by time or wear. Ploug acquired it, put down his trusted ES-330 Gibson for a spell, picked up this new companion, and started to let his creative juices flow.

These thirteen solo tracks represent a portion of what came of Ploug's quality time with this acoustic ax. Guided by the instrument's sound, sensibilities, and subtleties, he created a wide variety of concise compositions that shine with beauty and depth. There are episodes of flowering in sound ("Florescence"), expressions of a personalized folk patois ("With Open Arms," "Einer"), minimalist motifs nodding toward Steve Reich ("Circle Wind"), and glimmering cascades of notes ("Alleviation"). Proper salute to two dissimilar inspirational figures—composition icon Olivier Messiaen ("Coulers d'Olivier") and otherworldly guitar avatar Ben Monder ("Luminous")—even make it onto the playlist.

Whether engaging in angular fingerpicking, strumming serene chords, taking a concept to its furthest endpoints, or digging down to the roots of an idea, Mikkel Ploug finds a way to meld mind and matter into one unified musical sound here. Alleviation is neither the end result of a man's explorations of a guitar nor a guitar's expression of its own truths; it's the product of a marriage between the two.

Track Listing: Night Space; Florescence; With Open Arms; Arabesque; Circle WInd; Einer; Coulers D' Olivier; Safari; Grundtvig Reflections; Luminous; Alleviation; Overseas; Road Trip.

Personnel: Mikkel Ploug: acoustic guitar.

Title: Alleviation | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

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