Sunday, February 15, 2015

GuitCussion - Blue Congo

Blue Congo
Brakophonic Records

Henrik Wartel - Drums
Stefan Thorpenberg - Electric Guitars
Per Anders Skytt - Drums
Gunnar Backman - Fretless and Fretted 25 string Virtual Guitar, Live Loops

I tend to look at guitar groups in the area I’ll loosely describe as free jazz with suspicion. Too often it seems there’s latent heavy metal tendencies lurking in the background, looking for the moment to make themselves known with some inopportune “shredding”.

Still, the premise of the Swedish group GuitCussion is intriguing. Consisting of two guitarists and two drummers, the group wants to create a powerful form of free music in a non-idiomatic fashion. Whether GuitCussion fulfills the non-idiomatic part of the equation is open to debate, but ultimately beside the point, because they create some interesting atmospheres and textures on Blue Congo. Parts of it sound like what would have happened if Larry Coryell had played with Tony Oxley back in ’75 instead of Alphonse Mouzon, and the band can bring the heat when it wants to, as on the track Broken View.

Blue Congo is an embarrassment of riches, with over 70 minutes of music, and I could have been just as happy with a little editing. But that’s a minor quibble. It seems that fans of free improv are frequently also fans of bands like King Crimson. I think those folks will like this a lot, as to my ears they successfully bridge both genres.