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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Steve Raegele - Last Century (Songlines, 2010) ***½

Compared to some of the recent guitar trios that I reviewed, this album is the odd one out : it is not trying to impress, it is not trying to tear down, yet it is not mellow or mainstream either. Raegele is accompanied by Miles Perkin on bass and Thom Gossage on drums and kalimba. The music is creative, searching, open-textured, subtle and sensitive. Some pieces, like the title track, come close to a real soundscape architecture, with precise guitar notes floating over ethereal backgrounds, other tracks are more post-modern, with quite structured themes and harmonic development. The music is unobtrusive, yet quite creative at the same time: unexpected things happen along the way, and I like that. Raegele seems unsatisfied with known idioms and starts playing around with what he knows: jazz, rock, rhythm, melody and lyricism, and he cuts them all to pieces and re-assembles them again : accessible, sweet sometimes, but never boring, never following the beaten track, creating new openings into music. Listen to the rhythmic oddities on "Stop Short". His guitar sound is clear with a little notch of distortion, just sufficient to give it a little harshness. Perkin and Ghossage's contribution is never less than functional, but often being more than just the rhythmic support. A nice and carefully crafted album, which could do with a little more tension.

Listen and download from eMusic.