Fred Frith

Guitar Solos 2

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In 1975, Fred Frith released the groundbreaking album Guitar Solos where he combined experimental techniques gleaned from the study of musicians like Keith Rowe and Derek Bailey with enough of a rock-ish tinge to attract younger listeners into the Canterbury Scene and progressive rock bands. For the second volume of this series, he shared the occasion with three other forward-thinking guitarists, including Bailey, Hans Reichel, and G.F. Fitzgerald. Frith's own two pieces are lovely, echoey affairs, quite unique with pinpricks of sound peeking out of cascading note falls. Fitzgerald, a Canterbury denizen who seems to have disappeared after this date, also uses delay and echo effects, but to transform his guitar into a sardonic gamelan orchestra. Reichel, near the beginning of what has proven to be a long and productive career, wields an unusual guitar composed of two necks appositely affixed, their bodies dispensed with. His picking technique sounds perhaps the most traditional of the bunch, but his melodic lines, with their constant fluctuation in tuning, conjure up images of severely warped ragas and make for thrilling listening. After all this technical razzle-dazzle, in comes Bailey on his old acoustic guitar, sounding like no one else in the world, his music emerging as naïve and beautiful as a baby. No effects, no flash, just inspired creation. His vocal recitation on the closing "The Last Chord" is stark, stirring, and worth the price of entry in and of itself.

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