8 Guitars

Scott Horscroft

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8 Guitars Review

by Fran├žois Couture

As the title suggests, there are eight guitars on this album, but none of them is performed by Scott Horscroft -- although one could also argue he plays them all. For his first album, Horscroft devised a piece in which eight electric guitarists follow ultra-simplistic rhythm patterns. Each player sticks to his motif throughout the duration of the piece (38 minutes). The eight output signals are fed into Horscroft's computer. The artist manipulates, mixes, and combines overtones to create a hypnotically pulsating work. The press release explains that the polyrhythmical chug we hear is not due to the players' physical attacks but to beating harmonics and other sonic trickery masterminded by the composer. In any case, it sounds like a particularly static jam by an augmented lineup of Can -- or the Grateful Dead attempting to free themselves from the "repeat A-B" function of your CD player. The guitarists are Brendan Walls, Matt Goulbourn, Scott Barr, Michael McGuinty, Simon Hanna, Matt Allen, Rob Russo, and Oren Ambarchi, all Australian players with diverse backgrounds. Individualities have been obliterated by Horscroft's manipulations, but fans of Ambarchi's experimental ambient pieces will be interested in how 8 Guitars turns out. The piece attains its cruising speed at take-off (wrong metaphor: there is no take-off, the plane is already flying when the album starts) and doesn't let go for 38 minutes -- don't let the indexation into two tracks fool you, they segue without notice. The music evolves very slowly over time, like one of The Necks' extended improvisations, letting you wonder if you're not imagining the modifications. Under a certain frame of mind, 8 Guitars might provide a lengthy trip of psychedelic proportions. Otherwise, the idea is interesting but a bit thin on results.