Annette Krebs

Guitar Solo

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It's difficult to imagine where further explorations of the electric guitar could lead, after the signposts blazed by musicians from Keith Rowe to Hendrix to Derek Bailey (not necessarily in that order). Yet new territory is consistently uncovered, sometimes unexpectedly beautiful ground as limned here by German guitarist Annette Krebs. Using the basic tabletop setup pioneered by Rowe with the improvising ensemble AMM, Krebs employs an extremely spatially aware approach that perhaps owes a little to the Japanese avant-garde community, particularly Taku Sugimoto, a guitarist with whom she had worked and recorded (see their lovely duo on Slub). She positions her sounds with extreme delicacy and a profound sense of time and texture, gently layering subtly different tones on top of or next to each other like translucent lamina, each reflecting the others. Like Sugimoto, Krebs is also quite willing to allow spaces of pure silence into her improvisations, where they take on a surprising amount of psychological weight. At no point on this recording does one hear anything like a traditional guitar note. Instead, the listener is presented with an enormous gradation of rustles, rumbles, clicks, buzzes, and pings, luminously presented as objects inhabiting a tangible breathing space. The music is generally very soft (though the brief fourth track makes a surprising and crackling assault) and almost requires concentrated listening in a distraction-free environment. But this is entirely worth the effort to enable one to discern each ravishing element, each ephemeral contrast. On the final two (untitled) tracks, Krebs adds taped elements into the improvisations and they are entirely of a piece with the feel of the earlier works, etching yet more character into an already beautifully defined soundworld. Typical of the Italian Fringes label, the entire package is lovingly presented, the oversize, fine paper sleeve adorned with a stunning watercolor by Krebs. Guitar Solo, so disarmingly titled, is a masterful work, a deeply rich sample of some of the finest freely improvised music at the start of the 21st century. Very highly recommended.

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