Peppergreen Media 2016
Well-tempered six-string extravaganza tapping at the heart of The Big Apple and captivating to the core.
Eleven guitarists walking in the streets of NYC and playing their instruments through portable amps must be a sight to behold, yet it lacks the discipline such an ensemble may demonstrate in the studio. Harder still, Patrick Grant – the project’s mastermind who had collaborated with artists as diverse as John Cage, Quincy Jones and Billy Joel – managed not only to bring this parade on record but also to maintain the electric orchestra’s immediacy on these tracks. Applying dry humor to variously styled pieces, the band transform individual experiences into something that’s much larger than the sum of its parts, so “Tilted Axes Theme” and “Theme Variation” weave the multicolored threads into an anthem of sorts, whereas “Tuanna Claonta” distils the musical attack to Celtic battle march.
From the scintillating “Shapes 1” on, there’s a delightful, life-affirming charge running via aural aortas of ever-shifting melodies – be it a cartoonish “Techno Tilt” and bossa-smeared “Rivera Court” or purely experimental pieces like “Circulation In G Maybe” and “Polymetric Patterns” whose soundscapes house minimalistic strains. Once a Crafty Guitarist, Grant takes on Robert Fripp’s buzz in almost symphonic “Krimson Coda” – attached to the rock ‘n’ roll of “Corridor 84” – and “Kneadle Variation” while painting a joyous raga all over “Asciae Obliquiae” and having fun with “Beaubien Blues” which sifts funk and folk into a prog salad.
If there are instrumental records where music does the talking and creates a visual urban panorama, this is the one. Those mobile guitars can help but move you.