Monday, October 11, 2010
"Dither is an electric guitar quartet based in New York City" says the cover of their selftitled album from Henceforth. Basically jazz label (well - to my mind jazz, which includes lots of improv stuff) so you expect a jazzy improv quartety stuff.
Tongue of thorns opens with some ambient drones then bursts into a noise-rock drone with layering of bowed guitar, string play and drumming which I assume is knocking on the body, then in the last 2 minutes one guitar screams then shifts into sliding. This is not what you expected. Have a look at the cover - these are pieces written for quartet, only one by one of the members. So we are looking at a 'classical' quartet, modern and varied. Which the rest of the album demonstrates.
Vectors shifts between twangy loose picking, where different guitars (based on the sound placement in the auditory field - this is a lovely produced album) create a melody alternate with strumming, the volume increases and decreases and there is a shift between stasis and excited variation. The in-house composition Pantagruel is closer to my expectations and reminded me of Guitar Craft albums in the picking/tuning, but there a interruptions of feedback swizzing, some frippery sounds, atonal but melodic.
There are four parts to Cross-sections: Entropion has picking moving melodies, rapid soft cycles that emphasise the players skills and provide solo opportunities; a more effects playing with crackling, pops, feedback, bending tones and drones in Aphonia; some gorgeous playing, frippertronic inserts and shifting density in Prolix and a simple buzzing and picked playing in Venial.
A rocking, noisey wall of sound eases to dense but identifiable notes before rebuilding in the exciting closer exPAT.
A stunning album - literally and figuratively. It completely avoided my expectations and offers a stunning insight into what can be done in a 'classical' quartet format with modern instruments. Another adjective - thrilling.