Stephan Thelen – Fractal Guitar [MoonJune 2019]

Through rhythm we perceive the multiplicity of time. At least two scales, in a constant and unending dialogue, create a rhythm that elicits an elated and dilated sense of time. The dance mentioned by Doris Lessing in Briefing for a Descent into Hell, the novel about the hallucinated journey made by a wayfarer who has gone mad, is a tale of multiple rhythms. As the narration unfolds, the heading below the main title of the book –Briefing for a Descent into Hell. Category: Inner space fiction, for there is never anywhere to go but in- becomes clearer. The main character tells the incredible story of a journey, while sitting in the bed of a sanitarium, with flashbacks and flashforwards that confuse and mock on purpose reader’s sense of time. Stephan Thelen, who named the initial track of his album Fractal Guitarafter this novel, plays time in a similar manner. Overlapping metrics create a fractal tapestry of wicked intersections, covering layers over layers of rhythmic figures that collide. Like the wayfarer in the book, he navigates through constantly rippling soundscapes made of repetitive patterns and dense energy that create a sense of dreamlike awakening.

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Attraverso il ritmo percepiamo la molteplicità del tempo. Due o più piani temporali in contemporanea, in un dialogo costante e senza fine, creano un ritmo che suscita un senso dilatato ed aumentato del tempo. La danza di Doris Lessing in Discesa all’Inferno, il romanzo sul viaggio allucinato fatto da un viaggiatore impazzito, è una storia di più ritmi. Mentre la narrazione si sviluppa, il sottotitolo libro diventa più chiaro, ovvero Discesa all’Inferno. Categoria: narrazione fantascientifica interiore, perché non c’è posto dove andare se non dentro se stessi. Il personaggio principale racconta l’incredibile storia di un viaggio, mentre è seduto nel letto di un manicomio, con flashback e flashforward che confondono e ingannano il senso del tempo del lettore. Stephan Thelen, che ha intitolato la traccia iniziale del suo album Fractal Guitar a questo romanzo, suona il tempo in maniera simile. Le metriche sovrapposte creano un arazzo frattale di intersezioni sinistre, aggiungendo strati su strati di figure ritmiche che collidono tra loro. Come il viandante nel libro, naviga attraverso paesaggi sonori costantemente increspati, fatti di schemi ripetitivi e di energia densa che creano un senso di veglia onirica.

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Preston Glasgow Lowe – Something About Rainbows [Whirlwind 2018]

The definition of ‘trio’ spans such distant extremes, from nuanced, chamber derived line-ups to rave, aggressive, even electronic outbursts, to have become such a mysterious formula for success in jazz music. Giving the most iconic trio line-up is the piano trio, electric trios in jazz and fusion have been often labeled as ‘power trio’ thus indicating a different league of their own and placing them on the other end of the spectrum: thunderous, driving, rock-oriented grooves and the prejudicial belief electricity brings less attention to detail. Preston Glasgow Lowe trio is exactly undermining this opposition between the two ends of the definition, working the power electrified trio as if they were a piano trio, with subtle attention to smallest details, shining the surface of their hard-edged and rumbling music. There’s an inner sense of intimacy, even when their music becomes frenzy, sharper and virtuoso oriented, that pervades the second recording of this trio.

A meeting of Spirit Fingers

As the dim lights shed, the musicians on the stage start a boasting yet gentle drive. The music navigates through thematic sections and melodies like the intro roll for a movie. Singing, yet pumping, the mood is something in between relaxation and thrill, feeling like moving through the cliff where writing ends and improvisation starts. Even if the rhythm underlying below is a four against four and the chords maintain a strong tonal vibe, yet the band is putting at show an high degree of virtuoso technique, manipulating a multiple accent palette with wittiness and playfulness. Piano is driving the game with mastery, while electric bass is spanning with unusual easyness all the registers of the instrument, restraining guitar’s eagerness to a disciplined sustainment. The drumming is precisely counterpointing, never too sharp, always compelling. After four minutes piano breaks into the transition that welcomes the initial track theme. A looped two-chords ostinato overarches multiple rhythmic patterns. The band seems to stop for a few seconds, to take a deep breath like someone who is preparing to dive. Entering the zone, concentrating on the beat, focusing on the starting gun. They are pondering on time itself. Once the stage is set, multiple rhythms start pouring above the surface, like shimmering trickles becoming a stream.

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