This is simply amazing. A bit of novelty, perhaps, with a quartet of electric guitars playing some serious-type chamber music of a rock-style ensemble. I’ll bet the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet is great live—these guys are four of the most outside electric guitar players this side of Sonic Youth, all playing at the same time, sometimes scraping the strings with rocks, whatever, just goin’ to town on 24 strings. Sometimes cacophonous, sometimes brilliantly melodic, this is serious “art” music designed for listening. Sometimes you can party to this record, cuz they jam, too. I don’t know where the compositional process ends and the improvisational parts begin, and that makes the FFGQ listening experience all the more fun. The compositions are credited to all the members of the ensemble, not just to Mr. Frith. René Lussier, Nick Didkovsky, Mark Stewart round out the quartet that dables in rock, jazz and avant garde noise. Some call this kind of music “deconstruction”, but I don’t. The compositions are complex and the melodic material can be difficult.
Some of the most compelling music comes out of quartet settings. Bartok. The Beatles. Four Hand Grenades. If you like your music jittery, academically respectable and action-packed with a cartoon-esque appeal, you’ll dig the FFGQ. Sometimes they take you to the rings of Saturn as well. You’ll have to special order the CD from your local record store, though. Its an import from Canada, eh? So here’s the dope hoser.