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Guitar duos present many possibilities for intrepid musicians. Such pairings can be opportunities for boundary-pushing sonic explorations.
Scharfefelder, a collaboration between guitarists Elliott Sharp and Scott Fields, is a frenetic set of duets performed on acoustic guitars. This is a challenging listen, with dissonant passages a common occurrence, but still obvious that both musicians are masters of the instrument. Tracks such as "Branendrane" and "Put your pennies in my Portuguese cork hat" showcase the iconoclasticand quite different from each otherplaying of both guitarists. Sharp and Fields both contributed to the compositional structures here, with each piece more of a loose set of parameters for improvisation than tunes in any conventional sense.
The more musically interesting of the two recordings, The Lady of Khartoum takes inspiration from the music of West Africa and the Middle East. Garrison Fewell, a well-known educator and performer, teams up with fellow guitarist Eric Hofbauer for a collection of mostly improvised duets. Both musicians used prepared guitars in an attempt to simulate the sound of different ethnic instruments such as the kora. Additionally, both use percussion instruments, such as bells hanging from their tuning pegs, to augment the instrumentation and create the desired atmosphere. Tracks like "Dogon Delta Blues" and "Devil at the Salang Pass" are adventurous and quirky, exploring the boundaries of the guitar's sonic possibilities. "Farsighted Friendship," a John Tchicai composition (Fewell is a long-time collaborator), is a fitting closing tune, beautiful and contemplative.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Branedrane; Between octopus and squid; Big, brutal, cold raindrops; Minerali; Giganotasaurus; Shuffle through the restaurateur gauntlet; Douabula; Put your pennies in my Portuguese cork hat; Doubleviz; Fresh red flea; Freefall; Fried splash.
Personnel: Elliott Sharp, Scott Fields: guitars.
The Lady of Khartoum
Tracks: Prologue: Before the Dream; The Lady of Khartoum; Dogon Delta Blues; Comfort for an Affliction; Devil at the Salang Pass, Ma'at's Mood; Let's Cool One; Eyes of Nkisi; A Bourbour's Spell; Loose Life; A Cajun Raven; We Need Your Number; The Returning Serpent; Backyard Free Bop; Farsighted Friendship.
Personnel: Garrison Fewell: guitar, slide, sticks, bells, percussion; Eric Hofbauer: guitar, metal box, sticks percussion.
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...