Mark Vickness 2020
Lines that connect and ties that bind: American guitarist uncovers a wholeness around us and gives it a sound.
Inherent mutual dependency of everything in this world might seem like a lazy way to go about a concept album, yet Mark Vickness has found an ingenious way to form his sophomore offering. Progressing further from "Places" that established the Californian, known for his finger style, as a solo performer, its follow-up not only stitches different pieces together through tonal logic but also passes tracks from barebone guitar cuts to ensemble arrangements. As a result, the composer’s accompanists add a symphonic flavor to half of the material on display, while his unadorned tunes demonstrate enviable variety without disrupting the overall mood.
There’s murky solemnity to opener “Interwoven” where Joseph Hebert’s cello chimes in for a chamber wonder before Mads Tolling’s violin helps Vickness’ six strings get off the ground and start their unhurried ascent towards celestial translucency with a tragic lining which is propelled by Ty Burhoe’s tabla, but once “Grey Skye” has flown in in this number’s wake to focus on Mark’s guitar, a folk-stricken tapestry will be slowly unfolding. But if the harmonies on a studio version of “Hot Apple Stuff” are applied to the groove, and punctured by Dan Feiszli’s contrabass, in a more playful manner, when all the instruments line up for its Celtic-tinged concert delivery their joie de vivre becomes tangible – to get hidden in “Bodega Blue” behind a muscular twang that’s embroidered with a lighter melodic thread.
Back to gloom again, there’s a raga air to “6 in 7” with drone driving its cinematic expanse to the “Concierto de Aranjuez” domain, yet as the piece is gathering pace its immersive development feels less and less sacrificed to exotica – unlike “For Every Child” whose classical sweetness is unwavering. The impressionistic “Mia Lucia” would be the album’s only window into overt romanticism which doesn’t bear any cerebral idea, leaving the sparse finale “One Day Over A Thousand” to lift the lid on the endless possibilities such an approach can entail, but whether Mark Vickness wants to pursue them? Hardly so: a chameleon of sorts, he’s likely to delve into new experiments, with “Interconnected” as a milestone.