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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Electric Guitar Quartet, Instruments of Happiness, Music by Tim Brady, Rainer Wiens, Antoine Berthiaume

Today we return to the theme of the electric guitar in new music composition. The Electric Guitar Quartet is well equipped and game to take on some challenging and fascinating music on Instruments of Happiness (Starkland 224). This is music that has an aural affinity with progressive fusion, Fripp's the League of Crafty Guitarists, minimalism and some of the tonal colors of psychedelic-hard rock-metal guitar.

But all of that provide some ingredients that go into a very original mix.

Tim Brady gives us the lengthiest work with his "The Same River Twice, Symphony 5.0" and "Symphony 5.solo." It is bracing, nicely involved contrapuntal music based on riff extensions for the full quartet and then for solo electric. It is a difficult work (for the players) in its intricacies and an exuberant work-out and delight for our ears. The solo version makes excellent use of delay and other effects so that it achieves an almost orchestral breadth. At times beautiful sound colors float atop a chordal progression. This music will get you dreaming, then wake you up with some incredible sounds, or vice versa.

Antoine Berthiaume's "Fungi" begins with a slow harmonic rising effect in 6/4. It ultimately creates an earthy progression oriented linear movement that is informed by prog rock and Ennio Morricone on his more adventuresome side. The quartet uses a Fender Bass VI to add some bottom to it all. It is ravishing.

Rainer Wiens gives us his work "What is Time?"--here in a Tim Brady remix. Prepared guitar sounds prevail with the human breath as a rhythmic determinant. All that translates into a thicket of altered guitar textures both fascinating and invigorating to hear.

So that's the size of it. Electric guitarists Tim Brady, Gary Schwartz, Michel Heroux and Antoine Berthiaume give us tour de force performances, filled with precision, a flair for color, a total world of electric sounds that realize possibilities one might have dreamed about but rarely if ever experienced. It reminds us that the new music still can widen the envelope of possibilities, still has the ability to point us to the future, to the ever unknown, but always around the corner from where we are now. Excellent!

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