Jean-Marc Montera

Hang Around Shout

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European avant guitarist Jean-Marc Montera has appeared virtually everywhere on the avant and new music circuit, either as a solo act or as part of a collaboration with the likes of Joëlle Léandre, Fred Frith, Tim Hodgkinson, Hans Reichel, Peter Kowald, Kenny Wheeler, Barre Phillips, Han Bennink, et al. This date features him playing solo in concerts in Grenoble in 1993 and Berlin in 1994. Montera has, in both cases, brought with him his entire suitcase of guitars, tapes, objects, and effects. What makes this CD so enthralling is Montera's unwillingness to let any idea he has carry his momentum for too long. It's as if he needs restlessness to be able to carry him further than he ever dreamed, each and every time he sets out a sound, an effect, or a guttural wail from his electric guitar. While there are seven compositions named here, it hardly matters. To take in Montera is to become part of his journey, to go walking with him in alleys and crawling on your belly alongside him in dark caves. To enter into the Montera improvisation experience is to forget all notions of what one conceives of as music, and what a guitar is or is used for. Screeches, blips, and rattling and prattling sounds -- all of them ordered according to tension, texture, and effect -- fall or spit forth from his axe and gadgets, creating a sonic landscape that is as frightening as the real world was in The Matrix. And yet it draws us in, because Montera understands the word "playing" in the phrase "he's playing the guitar." There's this beautiful childlike mischievousness about it all that makes the listener howl in laughter one minute, chuckle with assent at another, and yell out loud in outrage in yet another. Such gorgeous anarchy, such beautiful noise; it makes this writer wonder if we all couldn't play guitar -- or anything else -- like this if we'd only free ourselves enough to try. The highest compliment I can pay a record is that it wants to make me try to play music. Thank you, Jean-Marc.

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