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Friday, October 26, 2012

Julia A. Miller - Solo Variations (Pan Y Rosas Discos, 2012) ***½

By Paolo Casertano

Lately I’ve developed an obsession for records entitled such as 'variation(s)' or 'solo on instrument (X)'. Better if both things simultaneously. Even better if the tracklist is just numeric or alphanumeric. I suppose this is due to the deep meaning of these words. 'Solo’ as 'alone', in this case playing a musical instrument, and 'variations' as 'change'*, two frightening and challenging concepts indeed, in music and generally in life.

I didn’t know much about Julia A. Miller. From her website I understand she’s an active guitarist, composer and educator on the Chicago jazz scene and in several music institutes.  Regardless, I truly appreciated this work. The first track is split in two sections and offers a good overview on her qualities and attitude. There is a great control over musical dynamics and distortion and a very personal tone. You could say that all the techniques are actually enough widespread - piercing feedbacks, growing drones, sliding bursts and this 'wood drops' effect that, I learn, is also known as spider fingers - but it’s their reasonable and valid choice and usage that makes the whole output pleasurable to listen and follow. Please consider this is a live recording with no overdubs. The long third track, named '2', has a slow and long introduction moving on powerful low notes layers and evolving in a discordant and avantgardish sound-like-a-piano piece.  But as a lover of far feedbacks, delays and diluted and hidden notes my preference goes to the fourth and final track, that can’t be named otherwise than '3'.

Some other notable links to get to know better this interesting artist here and here.

Available for preview and for free digital download from the label.

* I’m just trying to break the former record for the use of inverted commas in a sentence while giving pleonastic explanations.

© stef