Philip Tomasic

Figure

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Figure is a solo guitar album by Philip Tomasic, released in 1999 on Sachimay. The sideman of Don DeChellis and Masashi Harada gets a chance here to expose his very personal style. In his liner notes, Gerry Hemingway refers to the tradition of Hawaiian guitar. Indeed, Tomasic's slide technique shares affinities with the greatest players in that field. Of course he adds to it a freedom in spirit and form that makes things all the more interesting. The slide keeps traveling between pitches, alluding to melodies instead of squarely stating them. The saying "you have to listen to the notes he is not playing" has rarely been this true. The listener gets an impression of instability as tectonic activity constantly slips the rug under his or her feet. If in "Re-minder" the guitarist gets closer to the style of Derek Bailey, the ten previous tracks are perfumed with his very distinctive essence. The music tends to be a bit linear -- some pieces are downright interchangeable -- but the CD shows great cohesion, making up for lack of diversity with unity in discourse. In other words, it provides a great listening experience. Sound quality is excellent, pulling listeners very close to the guitarist's fingers to study his astonishing technique with eyes closed. Tomasic could be to Hawaiian-style slide guitar what Eugene Chadbourne became to the banjo.

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