Guitar Solo: Gute und Schlechte Zeiten

Erhard Hirt

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Guitar Solo: Gute und Schlechte Zeiten Review

by Thom Jurek

Fans of Fred Frith's guitar-on-the-table approach, or Jim O'Rourke's most woolly playing, will take an instant liking to Erhard Hirt's unique, apoplectic style of improvisation. From the opening tape and string slippage of "Good Times, Bad Times" to the breakneck freakout bending and mauling of "Drive," Hirt has devoted himself, like Davey Williams, Eugene Chadbourne, Frith, Derek Bailey, and others, to being an improviser first and a musician second -- and no, that's not a negative comment. His sonic palette isn't terribly varied but it doesn't need to be; Hirt's stylistic variances are enormous, and his detuned approach to the fretboard allows more than a few microtonal possibilities to emerge from the maelstrom. There's a percussive edge to even the most limpid of pieces (such as "Auge und Ohr"), and his knowledge of how to create the appearance of ghostly arpeggios -- when in fact there are only multiple vibrating strings -- works to extreme measure on "Klapp and Flap." Hirt's a bit more academic than most players who attempt his brand of free improvisation -- being from the second generation improv school and everything -- and while he's not devoid of feeling or humor, there is precious little. The aforementioned players like to have a bit of fun with their art, and one would think, based on his titles, that Hirt would too. But it's all so gray and machine-like that it's difficult to hold onto for more than a moment or two; but then, that's a moment or two more than most musicians or improvisers trying to reinvent an instrument are able to accomplish.

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