The Art of the Prepared Guitar consists of 14 short and mostly written pieces for guitar (acoustic and solid-body). Ken Shorley contributes some light percussion (frame drum, tablas) to four selections. This CD can be seen as a companion to Daniel Heïkalo's duo album with Arthur Bull, Dérapages à Cordes, released the same year (2000) by Ambiances Magnétiques. These solo compositions beautifully complete the improvisations of the duo while showcasing a more meditative side of the musician. These recordings span over ten years of work and show influences from about every musical genre and around the world: folk, blues, classical, Middle Eastern, etc. Here, Heïkalo does not use guitar preparation as a mean to experiment, but mostly to enhance the sound palette of the instrument. That is to say he sticks objects between the strings and the fretboard, but he plays using traditional technique. Moreover, the music remains tonal most of the time, structured, song-based, and listener-friendly -- it only sounds slightly strange, thanks to the overtones and buzzes created by the various preparations. The Art of the Prepared Guitar recalls Rainer Wiens' Bonunca Dream Music or Janet Feder's Speak Puppet with a stronger emphasis on folk. "Catacoum Catoum," "Turkish March for 3 Mustaphas 3," and "Echo de Melrose Sénécal" provide the most memorable moments, but each piece is a gem of virtuosic simplicity. The sound quality on these recordings is irreproachable. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture