Solo Guitar, the solo debut from Low's Alan Sparhawk, finds the guitarist experimenting with the effects and space to create moody, lush, orchestral compositions that are concurrently rhythmic and abstract. Recorded live with guitar loops and improvisation, its 9 pieces, ranging in length from under a minute to nearly 18, run the gamut from thick and layered ("how the weather comes over the central hillside" and "how the weather hits the freighter...") to sparse (the more straightforward mellow rock of "how it ends"). Others, like "Sagrado Corazón de Jesú (second attempt)" and "How a Freighter Comes into the Harbor", slowly evolve and build on themselves over time to bridge the gap. However, the album, as a whole, forms a fairly cohesive narrative, one track often leading thematically or sonically into the next, blending noise and melody to impressive ends.
Working with both harmony and dissonance, the album's watery compositions run the gamut from epic and emotive to harsh and unsettling. More traditional melodic phrases often play against a tapestry of underpinning harmonic layers, noise, and loops, while the individual tracks vary sonically despite the album's consistency. The metallic, raw, noise-oriented coldness of "how the engine room sounds", for example, provides an interesting counterpoint to...say...the more melodic "Sagrado Corazón de Jesú (first attempt)".
Both haunting and captivating, Sparhawk's Solo Guitar is a spectacular excursion into instrumental guitar ambience. With a remarkably well produced, full, wide-ranging, often reverb-drenched sound, it's a highly emotive and powerful album that may appeal to fans of his other work, but one that fans of guitar drone shouldn't miss.
Silber Records website: www.silbermedia.com
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