Mark Vickness 2018
From Long Island to California, acoustic troubadour marks his journeys in melodies and memories.
Even though the primary direction of his life was opposed to the route mapped out in “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie, Mark Vickness traversed America in many ways and collected a lot impressions to come up with many songs – only it’s guitars, not voice, that do the talking on the seasoned composer’s first solo album. There are echoes of his work with polymath duo GLASS HOUSE, his music for ballets and his film scores, yet these pieces’ complexity and exquisiteness is well concealed here to allow melodies evoke a multitude of moods behind Vickness’ reminiscences and aquarelle imagery of various geographic points.
Exemplifying guitar technique defined as modern finger style, the delicate twang of “A Thousand Islands” may detail the artist’s quiet adventures and awe of nature, his percussive approach stressing steps taken into airy pastures, but Mark’s able to turn to urban landscapes just as easily, with a charming coldness oozing out of the chopped lines and gusts of notes that shape “New York City” while “NYC 2.0” finds anxious solace in blues. Not even remotely ethereal, the translucent “Bishop Pass” has rather muscular playing in its veins, as if Vickness’ fingers were squeezing the tune from a stone, whereas “Prince William Sound” would unexpectedly enlarge its dynamic amplitude to open acoustic lace to vast panorama and introduce sharp riff to the deliberately repetitive drift, yet the barely-there strum of “Wind River” vividly paints ripples on the water.
Adding grandeur to the picture, “Wonder Lake Suite” unfolds its vibrant tapestry and reveals the Renaissance sort of folk influence on Mark’s style before a trance-like element in the piece’s latter part and a strings-laden coda bring wonders to a close, but “Flight Of The Rays” is all resonating splashes and enchanting patches of a chamber kind, more reverie than a real memory. There’s nostalgia, not regret, and the celestial flutter of Vickness’ take on “I Must Tell Jesus” – an old hymn – should bear witness to this, because some places deserve to be shared with the Lord.