Erik Hinds

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Khonsay Review

by Fran├žois Couture

Erik Hinds likes to keep his albums short and sweet. Khonsay has a running time of only 33 minutes, but it packs a lot of material and musicians. The three pieces have been written for various combinations of the Georgia Guitar Quartet and the SS Puft Quartet. The short "Coronach" starts off the set with a delicate guitar sextet (Kyle Dawkins, Brian Smith, Phil Snyder, and Jason Solomon of the Georgia Guitar Quartet, joined by SS Puft's Colin Bragg and Hinds). "Diorama Octet" calls for all members of both groups. Complex and thoroughly scored, the piece in four movements draws from avant-garde jazz, folk, new complexity, and a touch of the spirit of the South, while showing off Hinds' arranging skills. The charm of its themes is overshadowed at first by the display of virtuosity, but repeated listens give them a chance to impregnate the mind. "Individuation Suite" occupies a hefty 24 minutes of the disc. Written for SS Puft (Hinds, Bragg, trumpeter Jeff Crouch, and drummer Blake Helton), it more prominently features its composer at the H'arpeggione, a custom-made instrument that adds the range of the cello to the flexibility of the guitar, plus sympathetic strings for extra harmonics. This piece is much more overtly avant jazz, with an important part for improvisation. The first section of the "Emergence" movement is thrilling fire music. The "Detachment" movement features utterly strange vocalizations from Crouch and Bragg, while the second part of the "Acceptance" movement provides an occasion to appreciate Hinds' mastery of his unusual instrument. Highly recommended.

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