steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Steve Gunn

Self-titled CDR

Abandon Ship

Genre: improv guitar, American Primitive, experimental

Brooklyn, NY

Nov 21, 2008

One half of experimental act GHQ, Brooklyn's Steve Gunn put out this album last year on the (now defunct?) Onomato label, only to get it picked up for reissue by Abandon Ship. It is a collection of acoustic guitar and banjo improvisations performed in the vein of Steffen Basho-Junghans, John Fahey, et al., surprisingly meditative with a distinctly Middle Eastern demeanour employed.

Difficult to explain but easy to enjoy, these four compositions are what true bliss is made of - sterling, twiney guitar improvisations with an uncanny melodic knack. "Young Subjects" establishes a hypnotic drone before planting a layer of skilled guitar and banjo plucking over top; the effect is trancelike and marvellously tuneful. Sparse, sorrowful "For Tyrone Hill" and brief "Jerone and Jimi Chaplin" follow, but it is the fifteen minute "Two of Ammon" that really takes the crown. Sprawling and gradual, it takes its time but demands consistent engagement - although acoustic pluck and strum comprises the track's exoskeleton, the addition of spacey, reverberating electric guitar produces an almost intergalactic vibe. Guest Heidi Diehl, meanwhile, adds an ethereal flare to the proceedings, providing breathy, wordless vocalizations to the mix. This record is a terrific piece of American Primitive style, improvised guitar pluckery. As it has been criminally limited to only two hundred copies (and priced very affordably at that), interested parties are encouraged to snap this one up quickly.


youuuuuuuutube!: steve gunn with marc orleans live

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 4 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2008]