Thursday, September 24, 2009
Fred Frith - Clearing
Extraordinary composer, improviser and founding member of Henry Cow, Massacre and Skeleton Crew, Frith is my kind of guitar god. This is his third solo guitar album, from 1981.
"In 1975, Fred Frith's Guitar Solos album was a bolt from the blue, a hitherto undreamed-of combination of the free improvisation aesthetic of Derek Bailey and, even more importantly, Keith Rowe, with a sensibility that owed more than a little to prog rock. In many ways, Clearing is a belated follow-up to that recording. The pieces are remarkably varied, from the shakuhachi-like freedom of the opening "White" to the folksy "The Bow Moon" to the frenetic, how-on-earth-does-he-do-that "Minimalism." Unlike many with his facility, Frith's technique, masterful though it is, never gets in the way of his storytelling; it's always subservient to the purpose of the composition. That said, his playing is nothing short of astounding. On "Theatre," a torrential piece with an Eastern European flavor, one would swear that his furious picking is being accompanied by a fiddle, so clear is the myriad of sounds. There are also several tracks, such as the closing "Blue," that feature some wonderfully heartfelt, almost romantically yearning strains. For longtime Frith fans, Clearing is a no-brainer pickup, certainly the most thoroughly enjoyable of the albums spotlighting his guitar playing in many a year. But it's also a fine introduction to the work of one of the more outstanding and influential experimental guitarists of the last 30 years and an accessible entryway for newcomers. Recommended." - Brian Olewnick
Culo de Reina