Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon is as prolific as he is innovative. His restless explorations have resulted in a large, versatile discography that ranges from the orchestral to the free flowing with a variety of ensembles. His 2020 release Almost Alone Vol. 1 is a set of eleven duets each with a different international guitarist. It is the first in a planned three-record series.
Every track features a different set of motifs yet the eloquent lyricism of the dialogues gives the album a thematic unity. For instance, the "Coalition of Mistaken" with the Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima is expansive and atmospheric. The contrast between acoustic and electric strings creates a captivating soundscape. Darker hues penetrate the shimmering tune as Kalima and Salamon push the boundaries of improvisation to a delightfully dissonant realm.
On "Seven Cats," on the other hand, Salamon and Serbian guitarist Dusan Jevtovic pepper the Slavic melody with muscular and acerbic chords. Drawing inspiration both from their shared heritage as well as the visceral world of hard rock the two artists craft a musical fairy tale that is mordant and filled with moments of virtuosity.
In contrast on "Crooswijk" Turkish guitarist Cenk Erdogan's fretless instrument and Salamon's percussive lines build a song filled with Levantine mysticism. One of the most intimate pieces on the album it allows Erdogan to stretch out with kaleidoscopic phrases and poetic sense as Salamon creates a wistful ambience around the solo.
Similarly melancholic is "Northern Wind." Here, Greek guitarist Spiros Exaras and Salamon exchange haunting and hypnotic refrains that have hints of the blues as well as a Zen-like solemnity.
As expected from Salamon Almost Alone Volume 1 is a superb and thrilling work. His synergy with so many charismatic musicians as well as each one's singular brilliance is what makes this release stimulating and emotive. It certainly whets the appetite for the subsequent installments in this ingenious project.
Miss Sarcasm; Nightmare; Crooswijk; Awkwardly Placed; Coalition of the Mistaken; Looking Back;
Maine; Seven Cats; Not Too Late, Not Too Soon; Monked; Northern Wind.
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