This new 3-way split CD from the wonderful Music Fellowship label offers another unique set of guitar-induced bliss from an ambient/ drone perspective. On paper, the participation of these musicians was already exciting, but the music featured here is so rich in its overall scope that it is literally breathtaking.
The title of the CD gives us a clue of the ways the music is going to be experienced and shared. As we are invited to immerse ourselves into the fabric of each sound, the links between the pieces become more and more apparent and the flow of the music a constant source of wonder.
In this respect, the first two tracks by Spiderwebs are perfect examples of the understated beauty that pervades this record. From the sweet electric guitar harmonics that open the first piece to the slightly out-of-tune glissandos that are woven through the second one, this is pure magic at work here. Sometimes, the sounds of the guitar may evoke those of Tibetan singing bowls which could have been recorded and manipulated in real time as a means to escape the usual constraints of strict tonality. The results are simply captivating?
Those who know what Tom Carter is able to spin with his guitar know how he can swirl the music round and invite us to complete the picture through a simultaneously focused and distracted listening.
It is exactly what the duo of Mike Tamburo and Matthew McDowell has achieved in their masterful folk/ ambient epic ?The Uncontrollable Mr. Lechte? in all its 23 minutes glory. It begins with a few, plainly-stated acoustic guitar chords then quickly turns into a series of beautiful electro-acoustic motifs that resonate through space like tiny electronic butterflies.
By the time the track reaches its ethereal peak, the sounds gradually dissolve into some kind of static before the acoustic guitar briefly renters the picture with its broken melancholic line. As the dissonant sound of an aircraft is sharply outlined against the sky, the piece decides to take a more melodic path that ? in some respects ? may recall the work of Scott Tuma with its blend of carefully treated mouth-harp and echoing guitar-derived drones. As the music wears off, field recordings of nature sounds and insects are barely heard while the off-beat comments that are disseminated throughout this last section add a rather odd touch to the piece.
The contributions by R. Keenan Lawler feature more of his stellar meditations on the resonant National steel guitar. They are filled with silences and contrasting overtones that, in my opinion, are highly pregnant with a sense of history and meaning that is always being transfigured. Actually, Lawler?s unique ability not only enables him to transcend the instrument he?s using, but also the hidden material that is being filtered through as it is given shape. Whether this relates to real or imaginary soundscapes, Lawler thus manages to carve a voice out of territories that had only been intuitively apprehended before.
?Life Expectancy of A Rose? is divided into 3 parts of approximately 10 minutes each. The first part introduces the mood ? filled with the spirit of the blues ?, while the second one reveals a decisively more restless kind of drive as the acoustic space rapidly becomes suffused with subtle metallic overtones. It is all that Lawler needs for his music to fully bloom. Here, the faux-clumsy repetition of chords always suggests more than what is being heard as the restrained level of intensity that is maintained throughout actually testifies.
The third and final section begins with a few ethereal chords that are accompanied by their ensuing metallic overtones. Yet it rapidly expands and grows as Lawler constantly weaves unstoppable strings of notes that gently saturate the space while inducing a feeling of pure exhilaration. With Lawler, the music can only become an instrument of joy, of transfiguration, whatever the melodic material at hand. Again, this is simply magical?
No doubt each participant has managed here to give birth to some highly exciting new music, the understated power of which will never be completely exhausted. ?Yes, that's what you could rightly call a true gem. 10/10 -- Francois Hubert (27 December, 2006)