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Thelen, Stephan: Fractal Guitar 2

It’s easy to get lost in the perpetual grooves, sound effects, and atmospheres you’ll explore listening to Fractal Guitar 2. I’ve sat back and tried to absorb this while passively listening, which you can often do with this type of music, but it really drew me in and demanded more attention. You will find an undercurrent of sounds that can capture your ear as easily as the more upfront sections of the music. Thelen is accompanied by some great players such as Markus Reuter (who also co-produced), David Torn, Henry Kaiser and Barry Cleveland, to name a few. To quote Thelen:

“Because of the pandemic, the album was created almost entirely during the lockdown. I would start with an odd meter groove and add textures, guitar parts, and keyboard patterns. Then, I would send the groove out to various collaborators and slowly the pieces started to take shape. The next step was recording drums in a studio where the complex polyrhythmic grooves were brought to life”. A very interesting approach, but one made out of necessity and it works.

Thelen describes his approach called “Fractal Guitar”
“ using a rhythmic delay with a very high feedback level that creates cascading delay patterns in odd time signatures such as 3/8, 5/8 or 7/8. The other desire I had was to work with and to have some serious fun with a few of the many great guitarists I've met over the years to create an album that features some of the more forward-looking possibilities of the most mysterious, compelling and eclectic of all instruments, the electric guitar. ”

I’m not sure you need much more to entice you if you are a guitar lover than the two quotes from Mr. Thelen above, but I will still try to coax you to climb onboard. “Cosmic Krautrock” opens with a trance inducing pulse as a solid keyboard motif and foundation are set. The sonic adventure begins as layers of sound are created and different soloists take turns playing over the top. There are so many nuances and sounds, this is great headphones listening. This is just a massive sounding track, so rich and full. The title track gets a bit into that 80’s era King Crimson, but more ethereal and spacey. Each track will draw you in with the lush arrangements, carefully layered sounds, the music floats, and yet has an intensity that bursts through. I could go on and on about each track, but you just need to listen for yourself, it’s a rewarding and unique sonic experience.


Track Listing
1) Cosmic Krautrock (14:06)
2) Fractal Guitar 2 (7:53)
3) Mercury Transit (12:03)
5) Celestial Navigation (12:27)
6) Point of Inflection (12:13)

Added: January 23rd 2022
Reviewer: Eric Porter
Score:
Related Link: Artists @ Bandcamp
Hits: 517
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Thelen, Stephan: Fractal Guitar 2
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-01-24 03:05:33
My Score:

Stephan Thelen was born in the United States but has been based out of Zurich, Switzerland for many years. The experimental guitarist has a considerable discography including his latest release titled Fractal Guitar 2, the follow up to Fractal Guitar released in 2019. This is a guitar lovers delight and its easy to see why when you look at the guest list, which includes:

Markus Reuter (touch guitar U8, soundscapes)
Jon Durant (fretless guitar, cloud guitar, VCS3 guitar, electric guitar)
David Torn (electric guitar, live looping)
Bill Walker (electric guitar, live looping, lap steel, feedback)
Andi Pupato (percussion)
Andy Brugger (drums)
Manuel Pasquinelli (drums)
Fabio Anile (keyboards)

And of course, Thelen plays a variety of instruments including electric guitar, e-bow, fractal guitar, keyboards, synths, organ, formant swell and programming.

The album’s seventy-eight minute running time spans over six tracks beginning with the fourteen minute “Cosmic Krautrock”. The title says it all as tripped out, otherworldly soundscapes, angular bursts of guitar, fragmented guitar and synth textures are laid out over an outstanding groove. Frenetic freakouts combine with subtly flowing elements, having a totally engrossing and hypnotic quality. This is a fantastic opening track. The six-guitar attack continues with the title track where trippy soundscapes and fractured bursts of lead guitar make for some great listening. One of my favourites is the trippy and hypnotic “Mercury Transit”, featuring some of the disc’s best guitar solos and Thelen’s deep strains of e-bow, all set against a Pink Floydian backdrop where the pulsating keyboards shine throughout the tune’s twelve minute running time.

Fractal Guitar 2 is just a great disc with some of the most imaginative guitar playing I have heard in quite some time. If there is such a thing as headphone music, this is it. Absolutely recommended.




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