Music of the week: I really enjoy Animals - the last video of the Ghost Of A Saber Toothed Tiger, the band formed by Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl. Nice to see musicians having such uninhibited fun (and I'm talking about the music!) My travel back to psychedelic music is going on!
Well, it is also the DroneSynth I built during the workshop LeafAudio organized in Vienna last Saturday - and it sounds pretty cool! It has 2 channels with 2 oscillators each, and quite a rich sound for such a small DIY gizmo.
I start to have a lot of electronic stuff to demo, have to do that one day…
Music of the week: I don't know if it's just me or if this happens to other people too, but sometimes I figure out that I missed some essential bands even at the time when I was the most obsessed with music - including bands that would have been useful for my musical progress, like Birthday Party (I didn't like the Bad Seeds so I didn't care to listen) or Primus (I think that it was the closest music to what me and my friends were trying to do in my first band, I don't understand how I missed them…). Well a few days ago I discovered Bad Brains… Genuine punk played by musicians who could use their instruments, it's just fantastic!
About the Epsilon, Andreas who is building it back in Germany regularly sends me pictures of his work - I'll select and post some here at some point but if you want to see more and more regularly, you can check the photo album on gUitarREN's Facebook page.
music of the week: I have always the same problem with Radiohead: their music can be on the edge of genius but I find Thom Yorke's voice immensely boring (a little bit like Björk or Tim Buckley). I like the guy, his words, his compositions, his style, his presence, even the way he dances, but not when he's singing - too bad he's a singer…
Still I think I will eventually buy The King of Limbs since I listened to Bloom, maybe just because there is a lot to learn about music in what they do…
It's been for ever since I last posted a CD review here! Like I said before, call me old school but I insist on buying my music on CDs - I've seen enough music formats, supports and online hosts disappear over the last decades, and killed enough computers and various players, to want to store the music I buy on passive standard physical support… Anyway, these are the last CDs I bought:
Body/Head - Coming Apart: Like everybody, I was pained when I heard that Sonic Youth had split up but to be honest I didn't buy their last albums, and I listen mostly to their 1990s stuff. I heard here and there what Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo are doing with their current bands, but I wasn't convinced - that's different with Kim Gordon's new project Body/Headwith guitaristBill Nace. I was already a fan of Free Kitten since Unboxed, but now I'm sure that Gordon has always been the soul of Sonic Youth, even if Moore and Ranaldo were more visible - well, they play guitars and, you know, rock music is still a macho world…
Anyway, Coming Apart is quite minimal and radical - just two guitars and a voice, none very melodious or harmonious - this album would probably never have been released and listened to if Gordon was not already famous, but this time it's a good thing! Gordon's fragile voice is poignant, and let subtle tiny things go through, just like the guitars let you hear vibrating strings, electricity, skin and nails combined to produce a strange musique concrète with notes… Having worked a long time in the dance field, I always looked for dancers whose dance don't hide their bodies - something rare - and I have this feeling here with Body/Head: their music isn't made to hide something, there are no tricks, no pretending, no showing-off. And I feel that what I can reach through their music is… just me!
Melanie de Biasio - No Deal: But a certain minimalism and a female singer, these two albums have little in common! Melanie de Biasio is a Belgian jazz singer and flutist - I love flute and even more jazz flute - and No Deal is a perfect mix of cool jazz, blues, trip-hop and pop. I first heard her live on the radio and I was afraid that the album would be overproduced and lose the simplicity and straightness I enjoyed but it's just perfect: voice, flute, drums, piano, clavinet/synth, and a lot of silence… I just regret that the texts of the songs are not as deep as the music, but that's being very demanding!
There are many ways of being emotional in music - de Biasio does it by playing with familiar blues/jazz patterns - in sound and composition - and gently twisting them, removing everything that is unnecessary - that leaves a lot of room for acoustic and electronic resonances and harmonics, and there we are in pure physical aural pleasure! The musicians sound like they listened to every kind of music and distilled them in something very plain and dense, more based on honesty than genius or originality, and performed this with great care and feeling. It's the kind of album I'll certainly listen to when I don't feel like listening to anything!
And as I was playing these two albums again to write my reviews, I was imagining what it would be to merge them into one - to have Kim Gordon's experimental uncompromising roughness combined with Melanie de Biasio's creative suavity - it would be the best music of the 2010s! Let's hope Portishead will released their next album soon!
Music of the week: I listened to so many different things in the last days that I didn't now what to pick, until I started this post while listening to a live jazz radio program, and discovered the Emile Parisien Quartet, some highly talented young French musicians - and I just can't stop listening!
Here we go! Andreas from Deutsches Tonholz started to work on the Epsilon - this is the template… The guitar itself will have a maple neck through ash body and a plumtree fretboard. Just received this picture and it makes my day!
Here is a video of my first band project for many years - the Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna, with no less than 9 guitarists! It is still quite chaotic - it's improvised music after all - but we have plenty of ideas and will to improve our music. This song was the finale of last week's concert, everything was not so rhythmical and assonant, there were some moments of raw noise but also more melodic pieces…
You'll find a short review and some good pictures here. Now we're looking for concerts!
Line-up: Eric Arn (guitar), Bertram Dhellemmes (guitar), Johanna Forster (guitar), Vincenzo Granato (guitar), Marcin Ł. Morga (bass), Diego Mune (guitar), Pailander (drums), Markus Reiter (guitar), Markus Steinkellner (guitar), Margaret Unknown (guitar), Christoph Weikinger (guitar).
music of the week: my next CD will for sure be the last album of Melanie de Biasio, a belgian jazz singer/flutist playing a minimalist bluesy jazz bordering on trip-hop, with a little bit of electronics on top. Not the most radical music, but smart, emotional and well done.
Next Wednesday I will play with my new band, the Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna, in Fluc, Vienna, the same venue where we performed with Yuri Landman. The band comprises 9 guitarists, plus drums and bass, and is not far from reaching sonic heavens.
Didn't have a real band for 10 years, as I was busy with dance, multimedia performances and electronic music - it feels really good! I will post some music here soon.
These are the handwound pickups Jaime Campbell at The Creamery made for the Epsilon. We chose blade humbuckers with alnico 5 magnets for versatility and warmth.
For some stupid marketing reasons, not-overwound pickups are called 'vintage' - that is in electric guitar business if you don't play metal, you play old school rock… the Epsilon will prove that wrong!
music of the week: well, the music that thrills me lately is the one I play in my new music projects, the most advanced being the Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna, a many guitars improvisation orchestra that will play its first concert on January 29th in Fluc, Vienna. We gathered a fine bunch of guitarists - supported by a rhythm section - and figured how to combine sonic mayhem and musicality. Or a least we try...
The other project - with electronics, voices and guitars - still requires a lot of work so I will talk about it later, but we're on it!
Is it vain to have a personal guitar blog - one more guitar blog? Probably...
But when I started to pay more and more attention to my guitars - lifetime companions and much more than mere working tools -, I've been quite happy to gather information on the net, on blogs, forums, fan sites, etc... So maybe some people will benefit in a way or another from this one.
And maybe also one day someone will see and appreciate my design work and ask me to design guitars for his project or his company - feel free to contact me if you're interested!
You can click on most pictures to enlarge them. This blog is best displayed in 1280 x 800.
A sunburst Stratocaster walks into a bar, orders a beer and takes a stool next to a hot-looking Les Paul Goldtop, who's sipping an umbrella drink. The Strat leers at the Les Paul for several minutes and then says, "Hey, that's some set of humbuckers you got on you, darlin'."
"You're not getting any feedback off of me with a pickup line like that," the Goldtop says indignantly.