Friday, November 02, 2018

Things we like: Quarto Ensamble, CHORD

As fraught as social media can be, what with targeted disinformation and the prevalence of asshole culture there, it's still the best way I have of keeping tabs on musos I dig, and hearing new music that's worthwhile (although Tape Op magazine and KNON-FM have also been good to me this year). In fact, two of my favorite guitarist/composers -- Marco Oppedisano and Nick Didkovsky -- both entered my consciousness via Facebook posts about The $100 Guitar Project, a 2010 recording venture to which they both contributed.

Both men live in NYC and come from rock backgrounds. Oppedisano's an educator and electroacoustic composer whose improvised solo guitar videos are a particular delight. Didkovsky's a familiar of Pauline Oliveros, Fred Frith, and the Alice Cooper Group who's led bands including Doctor Nerve, Hasslicht Luftmasken, and Vomit Fist, and designed music composition software. Both have new music available.

In Oppedisano's case, it's a recording of his guitar quartet "Good News" by the Chilean group Quarto Ensamble on their album Musica de Quarteto de Guitarras Electrica. I'm not sure the CD is available outside Chile right now; you can contact the group via their website. Oppedisano's piece is gently ruminative, with crystalline textures that recall Ralph Towner's '70s collaborations with Larry Coryell and John Abercrombie. Elsewhere, on Javiar Farias' "Cuarteto 1" and "Cuarteto 2," they dig deep into Red-era King Crimson heaviosity, while on Dallas-born ex-Village Voice scribe Kyle Gann's "Composure," they weave their way through a spacious sound field. Worthwhile listening.

CHORD is Didkovsky's new collaboration with his friend and fellow guitarist Tom Marsan, and it's an orgy for the ears of guitar freaks everywhere. Opening track "loc. 10" starts out where the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat" finished up, with ringing harmonics and feedback from the two heavily amplified guitars skirting Metal Machine Music territory (but with more midrange thickness). It's cleansing as well as bracing. "extinction event" uses more negative space between chords that have the density of concrete blocks, but still sound like a system on the verge of overload. "not home" is all slashing treble, a kind of operational definition of "heavy metal" minus the riffs. "penultimate" is a quiet piece, but one which features shuddering dissonance at its core of gradually mounting intensity.

CHORD reminds me of Amiri Baraka's description of Coltrane's Ascension as "a soul rinsing," and as Baraka said of that august album, you can use CHORD to heat up the house on cold days. CD copies are available via Didkovsky's Punos Music label, digital downloads via Bandcamp. So there.


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