Ian Yeager

Music for Guitar + Computer

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This album came out as quietly as the music it contains. The solo debut by a guitarist from the Bay area, Music for Guitar + Computer is disarmingly simple and effective. Ian Yeager combines gentle stripped-down melodies at the clear-tone electric guitar with delicate computer treatments that deconstruct these melodies into quiet glitchy stutters. The resulting music is soothing, slightly sad, and consistently beautiful if a little monotonous. Others, like Oren Ambarchi, Fennesz and Giuseppe Ielasi, have treated this path before, but in the course of these 51 minutes, Yeager manages to establish his individual voice, mostly because he avoids the first guitarist's accretive loops, the second's noisy layered textures and the third's lo-fi desolation. The computer is presented here as a stuttering, unreliable machine spitting out half chopped segments of melodies, making sudden leaps in volume, and occasionally falling silent for no reason. All these traits could be annoying, but they actually add a highly sympathetic level of (pseudo-)chance. Most importantly, the computer remains an accompanying instrument, multiplying and altering the voices of the guitar but never taking it hostage. The album is a bit too one-track-minded, though -- Yeager would have achieved the same results with only half of the 14 tracks included. That being said, maintaining the same mood for the whole duration of a CD has its good points and, in any case, Music for Guitar + Computer makes a strong solo debut. We'll just have to see what else Yeager has to propose with his next opus.

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