Arriving shortly after Construction Sounds, Guitar Sounds suggested that Schneider TM's Dirk Dresselhaus was working on a series of albums that explored different kinds of instruments -- some conventional, some highly unconventional -- and the wide range of sounds they can make. Like his previous album, Guitar Sounds reconfigures and recontextualizes familiar noises, in this case the strumming, feedback, and harmonics of the ubiquitous guitar, into artful sound sculptures with a sense of surreal otherness. Unlike Construction Sounds, where Dresselhaus gave the chaos of a construction site enough order that the results were surprisingly soothing, on Guitar Sounds he pushes the more typically musical sound of six strings in atypical directions: the hovering, lingering tones that open "Landslide" build into a roiling sheet of noise, tussle with melody and atonality, and culminate in an aggressive, distortion-heavy coda. As experimental as Dresselhaus gets -- the list of equipment he used in making the album includes cello bows, bottlenecks, and isolation cabinets as well as the more expected effects pedals -- Guitar Sounds just isn't as unique-sounding as its predecessor. On the other hand, that also makes it more accessible in some ways, and the album balances its abrasive moments with downright lovely ones. "First of May"'s languid tones are the musical equivalent of sunbeams filtered through leaves, while "Teilhard"'s taut-yet-expansive drones have a massive, imposing beauty that reaffirms Dresselhaus can wring as many moods out of six strings as he can out of forklifts and bulldozers. Given his history with experimental guitar acts like Locust Fudge and Hip Young Things in the '90s, it's not surprising that Guitar Sounds often feels like a reworking of that era's most cerebral post-rock, nor is it a shock that some of these songs began as pieces for the soundtrack to Carsten Ludwig's thriller In der Überzahl. "Überzahl" itself spans foreboding and lulling moods as its relentless buzz stretches out for 18 minutes, exemplifying how immersive the album is at its finest. While both of the Sounds albums are a little more challenging than many other electronic albums -- not to mention some of Schneider TM's previous work -- Guitar Sounds might be a slightly more welcoming gateway for curious listeners, even if it's not quite as striking as Construction Sounds.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares