Tilted Axes: Music For Mobile Electric Guitars
You have to admire someone willing to challenge the 'norm' and composer and guitarist Patrick Grant is certainly one such person. Rather than want to, as nearly all musicians do, perform his music on a stage, Grant wants to play on the move. Hence making more sense of the album title Music For Mobile Guitars, from Tilted Axes… I'll let the press release explain further…
"The guitarists of Tilted Axes perform original compositions written specifically for an event by Grant as well as those from the Tilted repertoire, using portable amplifiers strapped to their sides as they walk through the city streets. The outdoor procession of musicians moves along predetermined routes in selected areas, in honor of an event, landmark, or organization unique to that community."
Therefore it would appear that what we have here are the contributions of a huge swathe of musicians - mainly guitarists, 11 in total - as they tackle a variety of styles and genres in an instrumental setting. That's an unusual starting point and one that makes Music For… a rather unique experience, even in terms of instrumental guitar albums. The main reason for this is that it's virtually impossible to tie this album down to a style, or even a distinct feel. Instead each track feels isolated from the last and irrelevant to the next, while, even for an album so guitar focused, the sound itself remains frustratingly 'reedy'.
What is beyond doubt is that we're dealing with a vast array of talent here, Grant and his ensemble masters of their art, whether that be bluesy breakouts, flamenco driven meanders, punkish pouts or tight harmonies. That however doesn't guarantee a hugely engaging listen, each individual piece feeling like it lacks emotion (although I've no doubt there has been copious amounts of blood sweat and tears spent on the results). In truth, with the flitting from style to style and sparse nature of the sound, it can end up feeling like an immensely skilled tutorial CD.
I'm not afraid to say that I do on occasion enjoy an album that boasts technique over atmosphere but even on such a record, you need a common thread to pull you in to the artist's world. Here things feel remote and removed and while I'm sure I'd be gobsmacked and transfixed if a troop of guitarists appeared next to me in the street playing these pieces of music, as an album it leaves me cold.
1. Shapes 1
2. Circulation in G Maybe
3. Tilted Axes Theme
4. Pedal Swells
5. Theme Variation
6. Rivera Court
7. Techno Tilt
8. Kneadle Variation
9. Asciae Obliquiae
10. Alamo Tilt
11. Polymetric Patterns
12. Beaubien Blues
13. Corridor 84 + Krimson Coda
14. Shapes 2
15. Tuanna Claonta
16. Harmonic Revolutions
17. The Sound of Burning Chairs
Added: November 29th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Patrick Grant online
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