Somnambule - Writing About Music

Jem Finer ~ Gtr

Musical events occur to the left, right and centre for the first minute and a half of track one ‘Dimestore Guitar Meets The Super Computer’. Many different guitars are being played it seems – from bluegrass cottonpicking to backward dinosaur screech, from ‘let’s stretch this string ‘til it nearly breaks’ to ‘let’s imitate water percussion’. And then the track fades to a warm, flowing ambience.

‘Particle Guitar’ makes guitar notes trip on plastic tension, this might be the sound acrylic would make if it reacted like a lake to rainwater. ‘Crackle Pop’ is likewise aquatic, suggesting a river whose waters flow so fast that the stones on the riverbed scrunch together, while the surface ripples mellifluously and deceptively gently above. ‘Offworld’ is sending out some kind of warning, but these ears aren’t attuned enough to decipher the actual message. ‘Tunnel Bird’ delivers pleasing goose-like sounds, though said birds are without doubt being stalked by a secret submarine. It’s also the first track to suggest Michael Brook, friend of Brian Eno, The Edge and the late, great Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn. Other pieces provoke other associations: for example ‘Crank’ suggests thoughts of Robert Fripp’s Frippertronics pieces such as ‘Let The Power Fall’. However, such comparisons aren’t meant to imply that ‘Gtr’ is anything approaching pale imitation, rather it’s a highly original piece of work. The first twelve tracks are relatively short vignettes, but track 13 otherwise known as ‘4k 161’ is much longer and clocks in at a little over 19 minutes. It’s an episodic track which begins in slow metallic whirls, like some vision of eternity rendered in burnished metal. It’s succeeded by a number of passages which have a far eastern feel to them, as if proposing a number of fictional, devotional possibilities.

‘Gtr’ comes dressed in a very fine cover – the inside of the digipak reveals a particle guitar chart that’ll stretch the mind if you allow it. ‘Gtr’ is a set of disquisitions and inquisitions about the territories the guitar aided by laptop make possible to explore. The result is a highly varied series of pieces, many of which are beautiful, original and highly recommended.
Colin Buttimer
August 2004
Published by Absorb