285

Dominic Frasca: Deviations

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Dominic Frasca: Deviations When Adrian Belew, King Crimson's guitarist/vocalist, coined the phrase The Guitar as Orchestra for his 1995 solo album, he was referring to broadening the instrument's sonic landscape through an array of electronic processing. But to other guitarists even the most unaffected acoustic guitar has richer possibilities. Ralph Towner, for example, visualizes completely self-contained compositions on guitar—subdividing the parts amongst his bandmates in Oregon when adapting them for the group.

Then there's Dominic Frasca, a musical renegade who turns the idea of adapting music for guitar on its ears. Rather than shaping the music to a conventional guitar's inherent limitations, he's as likely to adapt the instrument to the music by designing a new and composition-specific variation—perhaps an acoustic ten-string guitar with a mix of nylon and steel strings and an electronic feed to allow some additional processing.

Couple his modified instruments with his unorthodox approach to playing them, and the result is a single performer on a single instrument building a tapestry of sound that will leave most guitarists scratching their heads. But despite the obvious question of how he does it, Deviations—Frasca's debut under his own name—is no mere exercise in nonconformist technique. It's as compellingly musical a solo recording as you're likely to hear this year—or, perhaps, any year.

Frasca interpreted minimalist Steve Reich's "Electric Guitar Phase on the composer's Triple Quartet (Nonesuch, 2001), and so it should come as no surprise that he covers "Two Pages —the work of another minimalist, Philip Glass—on Deviations. But what is remarkable is how he adapts the piece, reducing it to its core yet retaining its sense of urgency throughout. Glass simply never sounded so beautiful.

Equally stunning are a series of miniatures composed by Marc Mellits. "Dometude and the quirkily bluesy "Metaclopramide are rhythmically propulsive pieces that pack a lot of content into their mere 90 seconds. "Lefty's Elegy and "Dark Age Machinery are the lyrical highlights of Deviation, hinting at Towner but with more complex counterpoint. Frasca's ability to pan his instrument across the stereo image and blend the softness of nylon with the edge of steel creates a textural depth that defies the inescapable fact that these are live performances with no loops or overdubs.

Despite the recital nature of this recording, there's little to tie it to even the most contemporary of classical repertoire. Frasca's episodic 23-minute title track combines the mathematical precision and angularity of King Crimson's Robert Fripp with a broader world view, including allusions to Spanish music. His ongoing sleight of hand includes using the guitar's body as a percussion instrument as well as somehow combining tapped chords wth arpeggios to further broaden his musical orbit.

But despite the ever-persistent reminders of just how impossible Frasca's playing seems to be, what makes Deviations such an important record is that it never sacrifices emotional resonance. Waste a little time trying to determine how he does it, and then forget about that part so that you can appreciate Deviation as undeniably evocative—and provocative—music.


Track Listing: Dometude; Forced Entry; Lefty's Elegy; Deviations; Metaclopramide; Two Pages; Dark Age Machinery.

Personnel: Dominic Frasca: six and ten-string guitars.

Title: Deviations | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Cantaloupe Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Such A Sky CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31 CD/LP/Track Review Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Noumenon" CD/LP/Track Review Noumenon
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Another Time: The Hilversum Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 3, 2017
Read "Aerial" CD/LP/Track Review Aerial
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "Live in Japan" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Japan
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 5, 2016
Read "#knowingishalfthebattle" CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Miguel Angelo Quarteto: A Vida de X" CD/LP/Track Review Miguel Angelo Quarteto: A Vida de X
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 10, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.