Night Guitar

cover art: Arik Roper

I play solo shows, just me and a guitar, no loops, I love it. My album “Night Guitar” however is more of a cinematic studio creation with lots of layered guitars:

Ax to Grind Playing solo shows brings me back to the very beginnings of playing an instrument in front of somebody; be it parents, teacher, friends, relatives, or a crowd, it’s rather primal. When I started playing guitar at age 10, the event of the guitar solo stood out as boundlessly exciting. Angus Young’s intro to “Thunderstruck” and Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption” are of course awe-inspiring, later John Coltrane’s cadenzas on “I want to talk about You” left me with goosebumps, and wonder, they still do. The concept of solo albums has always interested me, the first one might have been John McLaughlin’s “My Goals Beyond”, later Sonny Sharrock’s “Guitar” and my great friend Raoul Björkenheim’s “Apocalypso”. Ken Filiano’s solo bass record “Subvenire” was an inspiration, as is trumpeter Raphe Malik’s “Speakeasy”, and drummer Tom Bruno’s album “White Boy Blues”. I’ve heard plenty of great solo piano albums; McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley, Art Tatum. I knew I wanted to make one of my own a long time ago, but I didn’t feel ready until inspiration struck to go and etch an electric guitar record with engineer Jason Meagher at Black Dirt Studio.

Slipping through the Matrix For a while I had been feeling two personalities alive at once on the guitar, perhaps a gemini trait. This has been happening when in the spotlight of playing solo but now I wanted to take it further. Although the album is a 100% (les paul) electric guitar record, it is practically “orchestrated” for guitars, as the recording process at times required massive multi-tracking to get the picture complete to fulfill the desires of the compositional/creative parameters. Only occasionally does the record solely feature actual solo guitar, no overdubs. The music on the album is of a compositional nature. The pieces kept growing larger and build as I was working on them prior to recording. At its densest there are about 13 guitars tracks at one time. Playing/recording alone does expose you to, and makes you face, what you really find important and care for hearing and hanging on to. I found that although the structures, moods, and stories of the pieces were essential to create, the spontaneous impulses were equally important – they aid in giving the whole more human content, presence and immediacy. The emotional impact and vibe was what I gravitated towards. Having always been intrigued by words and story-telling I think of the pieces as instrumental stories. I used to rarely have imagery appear when listening to a musical piece but this has changed. These days it tends to be a more cinematic experience to me, not absolute music. Human themes find a way into the centre of the “message”. Being a sucker for old movies and pulp fiction, gestalt and content of the film noir genre also served me lots of irresistible mood pockets and related scenarios during this.