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Review

Dolf Mulder, Vital, no 168, 4 avril 1999

It has been a long time ago since I have heard a new CD from Fred Frith. In the 80s I used to follow his career. But since he started profiling himself as a “composer” my interest declined. With listening to Up beat it is as meeting an old friend, where the meeting has to prove if the relationship can be renewed or not. Frith started this quartet in the early 90s together with Nick Didkovsky, Mark Stewart and René Lussier. Their first release dates from 1997. I haven’t heard it. So I make a comparison with that other guitar quartet: Les Quatre Guitaristes de L’Apocalypso Bar (also with René Lussier). This guitar quartet delivered two albums in the 80s that are much more traditional then Frith’s quartet. Avant rock echoing Conventum and Henry Cow, where Frith’s quartet is much into the exploration of sounds and dynamics. Not rock music, but with rock energy. Only a few tracks remember of a music that they seem to have left behind: Old Bones is a tune from Massacre, Out to Bomb Fresh Kings recalls early Doctor Nerve and Red Rag is in the end just a rag. The other material shows that they are expanding the possibilities of guitar music. This quartet was Frith’s most important performing group in the 90s and they prove that there is more to be expected from them in the next century.

This quartet was Frith’s most important performing group in the 90s and they prove that there is more to be expected from them in the next century.

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