Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Alan Sparhawk

Solo Guitar
The basic name of this disc is deceiving. While it does accurately describe the activity on the disc, it fails to capture the complex and spacious sounds produced by the solo guitar of Alan Sparhawk.

For those not in the know Sparhawk is also a member of the aptly named band Low. While some of these tracks are minimal, many have a harsher edge to them. The guitar work inhabits the middle ground between Loren MazzaCane Connors’ harshest work and Kieji Hanio’s most plaintive.

The music is made with a solo guitar with the aid of looping pedals and delays that build up to complex and dense sounds. On “Sargrado Corazón de Jesú,” the guitar is at first plucked. Then, the strings or body of the guitar is rubbed to make a barely audible hum. Over that more aggressive and distorted guitar lines are added. Following that, there is a loop of the guitar slowly being strummed, while more dissonant and desperate guitar lines explode out of the amplifier into what sounds like a cavernous hall. The track ends with gentle waves of feedback rippling across the surface before it ends abruptly at the 13 and a half minute mark with a hum that slowly fades out.

Alan proves, despite the dour sound of most of the record, that he does not totally lack a sense of humor. One example can be found in the title of the short piece “Eruption by Eddie Van Halen.” It starts out with some morosely bent notes before the aforementioned Eddie Van Halen eruption. If the song was not called, “Eruption by Eddie Van Halen” the explosion of quick guitar licks might come as a surprise.

“How it ends” closes the album. It is short--just a couple of repeated guitar lines. The song concludes before it can be resolved into anything. The abruptness of the ending leaves the listener wanting more.
(Silber Records) (Dan Cohoon)