Mark Wingfield; Kevin Kastning
greydisc GDR 3508 (www.markwingfield.com)
This is a collection of original pieces for guitars. I found myself amazed at the range of guitar voices produced. A very extended palette of sound is due to the odd variety of guitars being played. There are conventional 6-string guitars but also we hear a 14-string contraguitar, 12-string extended baritone guitar, heavily processed electric guitars and even fretless guitar. The sounds had me searching through the liner notes wondering what I was hearing. Wingfield and Kastning are surely pushing the envelope with this disc. According to the liner notes, an “open mind” is required to appreciate these compositions, which are all improvised in the recording studio by two extremely gifted guitarists who had not played together until the time of this recording.
Sonically, the recording is reminiscent of an ecm release, a mix of acoustic and electric sounds with a generous amount of spatial enhancement surrounding the sound. Its multi-tracked, or layered construction, is assembled in an interesting fashion, with some sounds very forward while some are quite distant. It isn't very natural sounding in that the reverberation times differ drastically, with very dry acoustic guitars often surrounded by heavily treated reverberant electric tones.
As a guitarist, I am forever amazed at the compositional aspect of the instrument. I learned how to play with a very tattered Pete Seeger method book about 40 years ago and learned the early American styles of flat-picking and finger picking, using a handful of basic chords, and have had a lifetime of pleasure working in that idiom. For most of what I play, I really only need a guitar that has the first five or so frets. When I hear “modern” guitarists who are pioneering sounds and musical textures, I am in awe of how they can express themselves by travelling through every region of the instrument, often with what seems like effortless abandon. This collection of original instrumental pieces will impress all guitarists, no doubt.