Rob Noyes has been on the Eastern Massachusetts scene for a while, but what we've heard him play is music from within the context of electric bands, most of whom are loud as hell and exist somewhere along the rim of the post-core continuum. More recently, Rob has taken to displaying his solo acoustic guitar chops and they are massive.
Like Western Mass's Tony Pasquarosa, who mines the same widely-variant style-pits, Rob's approach to acoustic playing resembles his electric work only through shared-belief-in-a-strong-downstroke. On the way to developing his own compositional/performance approach, Noyes sometimes seems to have absorbed an almost infinite reservoir of influences. Apart from some superb Basho-like 12-string tunneling, most momentary fragments tend to recall legendary Limeys like John Renbourn (and through him, Davey Graham), because Rob's overt melodic structures tend towards the non-bluesoid. But then you'll maybe hear a note-sequence spiced like something dropped from the hot strings of Michael Chapman or even a powerful throng that makes you think of Wizz Jones. When that happens, you realize there's more of a blues base to some of the songs than you'd been able to untangle. Mr. Noyes hits a vast array of sub-genres on this album, and he hits them all pretty damn hard. Rob's playing carries the weight of many possibly-imaginary forebears, but the way he smears them all together shows a holistic mastery of touch and imagination that defies a lot of today's players, who tend to shine in short bursts, then allow their dreams to outrun their technique. Rob Noyes has no such apparent limitations.
Joseph Allred fits the guitar soli realm perfectly, fully embodying the guitar loner typecast. From what I’ve read about Robbie Basho, he was a bit of a loner himself with his focus set firmly on spirituality and religious practice. Allred falls in line with Basho not only in his 12 string playing that clearly has a leaning towards Eastern musical traditions and droning free form raga that flows out in such a natural, uninhibited way but also in his educational background in Philosophy and Religious studies.
Many acoustic guitarists who work in the American Primitive tradition also delve into avant-garde and experimental music. Jack Rose and Glenn Jones both started out in bands heavy into improv, Marisa Anderson played in a free jazz group, and Ben Chasny punishes his electric guitar—and listeners—as often as he finger-picks. Sir Richard Bishop has an album called Graviton Polarity Generator that sounds like its title. Jim O’Rourke has made just about every kind of noise you can imagine, and on and on.
Allred has lived in Knoxville off and on over the last decade or so; attending the University of Tennessee, he moved to the small mining community in Overton County, outside of Cookeville. Having grown up in nearby Jamestown, he’s now inhabiting the land that’s been in his family 200 years. He says he’s trying to find his place in the family legacy. Even without knowing his history, you can recognise a searching, if not spiritual, quality to much of his music.
There’s a sincerity in Allred’s music and way of life that has been missing from modern life for a long time.
Karen Zanes is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from the Boston/Cambridge area. In addition to her solo project, she is a contributing member of the experimental-noise-psych-electronica project, Violet Nox. Other affiliated projects include The Freeways, Ghost Machine Noise, Second Day Venom.
Blending elements of psychedlia and folk - Zanes utilizes various
acoustic and electric guitars and tunings, slides, small percussion instruments, loops and tanpura drones to create sparse, sometimes cinematic soundscapes.
Karen's Bandcamp page:
"Of Lovers and Tribes," Karen's latest release "...is a mini-album that mixes spacey, haunting songs with tripped out instrumentals based around acoustic guitars and drones" ~ Richard Falk's Reviews.
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