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Thursday, October 13, 2022

Bill Orcutt - Music for Four Guitars (PALILALIA, 2022)

By Guido Montegrandi

This is music for the eyes and the mind - put the titles of the pieces in a sequence and you get this story:

A different view, Two things close together, At a distance, In profile, Or from behind, Seen from above On the horizon, Glimpsed while driving, Only at dusk, Barely visible, Out of the corner of the eye, In the rain, From below Or head on.

To complete the visual and intellectual side of the package you also have an 84 page booklet containing the tablature transcription of the pieces made by Shane Parish - music for the eyes and the mind.

As for the ears, the record is made up of fourteen pieces for four four-strings guitar (the usual guitar setting for Mr Orcutt). All are very short pieces, with the longest one being 2’50,” “... apparently percolating since 2015 (…) in the culmination of years ruminating on classical music,” as Tom Carter states in the liner notes. Each track is a frozen counterpoint that distances itself from the recent free improvisation work with Chris Corsano and makes this record appear like the other side of the looking glass of “Guitar Trio is my Life” by Rhys Chatham. So minimalism in its electric incarnation: “four guitars, each consigned to a chattering melody in counterpoint, repeated in cells throughout the course of the track, selectively pulled in and out of the mix” (Tom Carter again).

Each riff could have become a rock ‘n’ roll song and you can follow the different lines with this feeling in your mind until, all of a sudden, they drop into silence - this sense of impermanence gives the record a strange meditative slant, from the treble side of guitar to the left side of brain with a fuzzy feeling in your ears.

Orcutt has chosen to play all of the four parts so becoming a quartet in himself and this adds spices to the speculative side of the matter without sacrificing to the emotional one because you can easily listen to these pieces while driving at dusk in the rain, from below, from above or from behind. It’s a different view.

One of my favourite records of the year – blues and abstract truth.

Latest News: Music For Four Guitars is going to be performed live at Big Ears Festival 2023 with WendyEisenberg, Ava Mendoza, Shane Parish (the transcriber of the tabs), and Mr Orcutt.


Alek Hidell said...

The cover seems to be modeled on Randy Newman's Sail Away - I wonder why.

guido montegrandi said...

Orcutt said it was intentional because he really liked that cover, anyway here is an interview with the man himself that, among other things talks about the cover

Alek Hidell said...

Thanks, Guido!