Guitar Solos 4 is a collection of the work of 5 Sydney performers and is the third release on psychopyjama to feature solo guitar - the first being John Encarnacao’s Giraffe Solos and the second being Jo Williams’ Sillage. But rather than a failure of simple arithmetic, the title of the release is a homage to Fred Frith’s series of (three) releases of the 1970s that showcased solo guitar improvisations. Aside from Frith, the other musician hovering over this release is fellow Australian Oren Ambarchi, whose extensions upon the guitar as a device with which to make sound is an influence on some of the music heard here.
Each guitarist chooses their own path, with the use of drone (Ianigro, Bozzetto), technology (Hunter, Bozzetto, Ianigro), melody (Williams, Encarnacao), noise (Hunter, Encarnacao), folk music (Williams), instrument preparation and alternate tuning (Encarnacao) and other aspects. All performances were improvised and recorded at a single evening’s concert. The pieces have been re-sequenced to create a listening flow but otherwise are pretty much as they were performed.
Steffan Ianigro: “Hillock” is an improvised work for guitar and electronics. The guitar is sampled and processed in real time, with melodies and textures being recorded, processed and gradually layered to form dense noise structures. The title of this work reflects its simple structure, which gradually builds and falls in a simple shape reminiscent of a hillock.
Jo Williams: For this arrangement of the traditional koto tune, “Sakura, sakura”, I've taken some inspiration from the art form of kintsugi, where a broken item of pottery is carefully restored, and the fault lines enhanced and embellished so that they become the defining features of the piece. The name of the tune “Si Bheag Si Mhor”, attributed to the blind 17th century harper, Turlough O'Carolan, translates as “small fairy-mound, big fairy-mound”. I've tried to give the tune a narrative interpretation in this arrangement, the idea of being spirited away to a strange, distorted world.
Jon Hunter: “Where there was wetlands” is an improvised piece for guitar and computer. The performance utilises a hand-built controller made from a recycled mixing desk. The title refers to Sydney and its modern inhabitants’ thirst for concrete and the continual modification of the environment.
John Encarnacao: The concert these pieces was recorded at was the launch for my album Giraffe Solos and my piece follows similar strategies to that album - a unique tuning for the performance (so that all harmonic relationships are reactions to accidents), some use of chopsticks, and a approach to free improv that embraces melody, rhythm and riffs and well as noise and timbral play. Except this piece is much longer than any on the album.
Luke Bozzetto: “Between Sea and Station” is an ode to the borderline state between sleep and wakefulness.
➢ Steffan Ianigro is a freelance web developer, researcher and musician based in Australia currently completing a PhD at the UNSW on creating web based tools for the exploration of sound.
➢ Jo Williams is a PhD candidate, musical hack, and aspiring wizard. He decided to start building guitars because he moved into a house with a shed in the backyard, and a shed that is not being used to build guitars is a bad shed.
➢ Jon Hunter creates sound-oriented art exploring time, chance and electricity. His practice centres mostly on guitar-based performance, often transforming the instrument with use of computation or electronic creations and sometimes choosing to focus on specific appendages to a guitar system such as slides or springs. He is co-director of thenownow and guitarist for The Holy Soul.
➢ John Encarnacao does song-based stuff with The Nature Strip, improvised stuff with Espadrille, and lectures in music at Western Sydney University. He has also released records as part of Warmer, Smelly Tongues, Love & Death, Pi, St Crustacean and under his own name. He is the author of the book Punk Aesthetics and New Folk.
➢ Luke Bozzetto is a Sydney-based guitarist who has played both as a solo artist and in bands including Milkk, Entoptic and The Decimals.
released June 19, 2017
All performances recorded 10 July 2014 at 107 Projects, Redfern by Steffan Ianigro.
Disc compiled and sequenced by John Encarnacao.
Mastered by Jon Hunter at Magnetic Recording Council, Alexandria.
"Sakura" - traditional, arr. Williams. "Si bheag si mhor" - O'Carolan, arr. Williams. All other compositions by the respective artists.