The New & Avant-garde Music Store

Review

George Zahora, Splendid E-Zine, March 22, 1999

Just about anyone with some degree of musical awareness has heard of Fred Frith, right? Mention his name to someone who’s bought something less accessible than the Titanic soundtrack, and he or she will probably offer a glimmer of recognition, however slight. Anyway, on Ayaya Moses, Frith and the other three quarters of his quartet (René Lussier, Nick Didkovsky and Mark Stewart) once again remind the listening public that that the guitar is an instrument with six discrete strings (sometimes twelve) that can be tapped, plucked and scraped as well as strummed. The results can be beautiful (the first half of the title cut), harrowing (the second half of the title cut), fascinating (“Trummings”, “Geco Rettile Mialgico”), orchestral (“Pulau Dewata”) and downright confrontational (“The Stinky Boy Suite”). Since a lot of neophyte listeners expect nothing but dischord from “avant-guitar” compositions, Ayaya Moses is an effective tool for displaying the sheer range of both the instrument and the genre; yes, there are tracks that sound like the guitar is being thrown down a flight of stairs, but there are far more instances where Frith et al coax astonishingly varied and innovative tones from their instruments. Everyone should own at least one FFGQ album — it’s useful deprogramming after too much 3-chord punk rock, and it’s fun to taunt Teen Punk Rockers with it by confronting them with the fact that Frith is an “old guy” whose music is too challenging for them.

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