Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"The $100 Guitar Project"

As an electric guitar player, I dislike the fetishization and commodification of work tools. Collectors drive the price of vintage axes into the stratosphere, but in my observation, every player has a set of frequencies that he/she wants to hear, and will tweak any piece of wood/box they're using to obtain that sound. This idea is borne out by The $100 Guitar Project, a double CD of 69 original tracks recorded by 64 different guitarists -- some famous, some obscure -- using a no-name axe that curators Nick Didkovsky (who takes the finder's privilege of playing on no fewer than six tracks) and Chuck O'Meara bought online, sound unheard, and started passing around the country in October 2010. The result is a fairly comprehensive survey of the state of the art of the guitar at the end of the 21st century's first decade.

Fortunately, the guitar in question -- with a spring-loaded tailpiece and a single pickup by the bridge that looks like the ones from my late, lamented Harmony Silvertone (the guitar in my blog icon pic) appears to have good intonation and a sound that can be dark and warm or thin and wiry. The informative booklet provides as much biographical background and as many specifics on techniques, treatments, trials and tribulations as the performers cared to furnish. As is my custom with releases like this, I'll provide a three-word summary of each track -- a challenge in this case, as some of the pieces, brief as they might be, are astonishingly developed miniatures. As if two and a half hours' worth of music weren't enough, they're paying royalties on every sale to the global humanitarian organization CARE, so you get to help fight world poverty while you're tickling your cochlea.

Disc A:

Chris Murphy: Odd-metered boogie shred.
Amy Denio: Brief, incandescent chiming.
Greg Anderson: Bombastic porch breakdown.
Alex Skolnick: Saturated slide overdubs.
Josh Lopes: Dreamlike rolling arpeggios.
Nick Didkovsky: Oppressive dark maelstrom.
Biota: Slithering modal pulse.
Caroline Feldmeier (of Paracuta): Pastoral tremelo interval.
David Starobin: Nagging aleatoric tension.
Taylor Levine: Musique concrete simulacrum.
Nels Cline: Brutal pounding assault.
Andy Aledort: Fluid bluesy vibrato.
Ron Anderson: Thunderous Crimsonoid explosion.
Mark Hitt with BCTD: Tortuous scalar gymnastics.
Rhys Chatham: Percussive microtonal drone.
Zwerm: Murky underwater descent.
Nick Didkovsky: What the heck?
Joe Berger BCTD: Beck meets Holdsworth.
Han-earl Park: Tune that radio!
Shawn Persinger is Prester John: Eclectic ear movie.
Del Rey: Loping fingerstyle blues.
Marty Carlson with Joe Bouchard: Satrianiesque surf-metal.
Mike Lerner: Stately court melody.
Marco Oppedisano: Contrasting textural study.
Jon Diaz: Clockwork minimalist Orientalism.
Mike Keneally: Lilting Martian country.
Mark Solomon: Oscillating long tones.
Larry Polansky: Gentle ambient gesture.
Julia A. Miller "jseq_a": Barely discernable motion.
James Moore: Lyricism defeats static.
Bruce Zeines: Filigree tapped doublestops.
Chuck O'Meara: Warped cliche phrasebook.
Karl Evangelista: Disembodied melodic waves.
Bill Brovold: Beefheartian chordal sketch.
Teisco Del Ray, with Bob Spalding: Rising surf house.

Disc B:

Colin Marston: Ethereal sonic streams.
Fred Frith: Shimmering dulcet tones.
Thomas Dimuzio: Cathedral organ swells.
Janet Feder: Bass string bells.
Marco Capelli: Hum plunk orchestra.
Barry Cleveland: Sinister gypsy caravan.
Kai Niggemann: Dreamtime heartbeat march.
Roger C. Miller: Pulsating plane crash.
Nick Didkovsky: Scratch that itch.
Jesse Krakow: Subverted folknik balladry.
Blancah: Distressed atonal wails.
Nick Didkovsky: Industrial perceptual minefield.
Steve MacLean: Isn't this Synclavier?
Jesse Kranzler: Incandescent shifting matrix.
Michael Bicrylo: Clicking whirring vortex.
Hans Tammen: Echolalic pentatonic mantra.
David Linaburg: More radio interference.
Nick Didkovsky: Slow motion dance.
John Shiurba: What's this triggering?
Bruce Eisenbeil: Scraping metallic chatter.
Henry Kaiser: Whisper to scream.
Wick Hijmans: Zen for melody.
Ken Field: Spectral somnambulent tango.
Juan Parra Cancino: ECU sonic space.
Ava Mendoza: Avant Peter Green.
Elliott Sharp: Mutant harmonic language.
Kobe van Cauwenberghe: Something's cutting out.
Keith Rowe: Wow and flutter.
Raymond T. Kallas: Singsong nursery rhyme.
Phil Burk: Game arcade sirens.
Nick Didkovsky: Blind man's bluff.
Mark Stewart: Bailey's diddley bow.
Tom Marsan: Sterno Hook boogie.
Matt Wilson: Abbreviated chicken reel.


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