actuellecd

Review

Michael Rosenstein, Cadence, no. 23:9, September 1, 1997

For his enlire career, Fred Frith has effectively bridged (or maybe just turned his back on) the gaps between rock, improvisation, composition, folk musics, and anything else that caught his fancy. He has continually forged intriguing combinations and syntheses, whether in his own playing, or in compositions he has written for olhers. Though released under his leadership, for this recording Frith has joined with three equal, like-minded guitarisis for a meeting that draws on antiphonal compositions, free improvisations, skronking guitar blasts and delicate interactions. Compositions by Olivia Bignardi and Claude Vivier, along with pieces by each of the members are woven into a suite-like whole with short collective interludes. The notion of an eleciric guitar quartet brings immediate visions of a bombastic blowout, but each of these players brings both a personal voice and sensitivity to the proceedings. The four effectively wend their way through the 7 pieces and 7 entree acts, moving from intricate counterpoint to slashing bluster with concentrated precision. Each of these players has developed an improvisational voice that blends rock vocabulary and electric squalls with flowing articulations, free electronic abstractions, and a strong Iyrical sense. The centerpiece here is certainly Claude Vivier’s Pulau Dewata. “Vivier is a Québécois composer whose work incorporates massed voicings, insistently repeated rhythms, quirky melodic fragments, and textural juxtapositions for a music that builds elegant structural depth from what seems disarmingly simple on the surface. The four decipher the piece with poised energy, stepping quietly through hushed sections of simple looping, rhythmic paltems that ring like gamelan music, then attack percussive punctuations with chiming vigor. In the hands of these four, the grouped electric guitars move from organ-like, hovering chords, skittering collective interplay, and massed rock squall as the pieces are threaded together, flowing from one to the other. These four are opening up the possibililles for electric guitar through intriguing compositions, thoughtfull improvisations, and keep group interaction.