Janet Feder 2015
Study in elusiveness by guitarist who goes beyond the strings and fretboard.
Spoken of in reverential tones by Fred Frith, Bill Frisell and Henry Kaiser – a circle of collaborators being characteristic of her exploratory approach – Janet Feder has a lot of discipline. In a solo mode, though, the former Chair of the Music Department at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, chases something different, and this album’s subtly unhinged nature perfectly illustrates such an unhurried run… Which may sound like a paradox, of course, but there’s a bit of oxymoron in the term “prepared guitar” itself, especially when other instruments on the record include studio door. So it’s not surprising that the silence-eating somber chanson “Angles & Exits” is an epitome of all things intangible and, at the same time, palpable.
The start of it all is quite traditional, folksy strum over a slow beat and Janet’s ghostly voice weaving a sense of anxiety in “Crows,” before electric flashes ripple the quiet menace and the dobro of “Ticking Time Bomb” performs an Appalachia-dry autopsy on the listener’s psyche, a fragile object to be broken in the end to the wail of violin and harmonica. With musique concrète as emotional backdrop, here’s a ping pong of it, in the low-end vibrancy of “Happy Everyday, Me” going on the blissful baroque blues “Happy Everyday, You”: another paradox for joie de vivre. The door can be an entrance, too, after all, and the title track – written, and flowing, sparsely, “T H I S C L O S E” – allows the cosmic buzz to seep in, not out, as hammers and bells welcome it back home.
Elusiveness might be the other side of intimacy, then, and Janet Feder nailed it precisely.