Shawn Persinger

The Art of Modern/Primitive Guitar

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The full artist credit on the cover of The Art of Modern-Primitive Guitar is "Shawn Persinger Is Prester John." One thinks automatically of John Fahey's early alter ego Blind Joe Death, and even a cursory listen suggests that one is meant to. Classically trained but with a polyglot sensibility that covers folk, rock and avant-garde composers as well, Persinger combines his various influences in a way that's unique but never tediously "difficult." Other possible influences that come to mind while listening to this 19-track, 45-minute album include Henry Kaiser and the gentler side of Fred Frith. The Art of Modern-Primitive Guitar is a pleasant, occasionally fascinating listen, but sometimes Persinger's brief pieces feel more like sketches than properly completed compositions. The best tracks, like "Matthieu's Accurate Portrait (Grotesque)," are charming instrumental explorations, but some of the shorter pieces tease the listener with the suggestion of an intriguing rhythmic or melodic idea that's over before it can be fully enjoyed.

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