Sunday, January 10, 2021

Anthony Pirog - Pocket Poem (Cuneiform Records, 2020)

Guitarist Anthony Pirog takes a wide ranging view to the instrument, melding genres together without fear and on this album alone touching on progressive rock, ambient, avant-folk, creative jazz, free improvisation, electronica, and guitar soundscapes. Often layering the compositions with sounds created using modern technology and vintage guitar synthesizers. In addition to guitar Pirog use a wide range of electronics and keeps excellent company with Michael Formanek on acoustic and electric basses and Ches Smith on drums, percussion and electronics along with guest musicians on a number of tracks. Many of the tracks are quite short, like sketches or experiments, beginning with the opening track "Dog Daze" in which a quiet and subtle opening gives way to heavy grinding electric guitar placed along side and long tones of majestic progressive electronics. "Honeymoon Room" shows Pirog playing loose acoustic guitar with fingers squeaking on frets, thoughtfully done, then moving to an electro-acoustic formation with longer hanging tones of electric guitar weaving around strumming acoustic, creating a very interesting texture. After a subdued opening, ""Adonna the Painter" takes a wide screen approach, then developing a more conventional guitar solo leading to a well thought out and played bass solo. The trio works very well together in this track, adding fine drum support as well. "Beecher" uses spare and atmospheric guitar and hornlike synthetic instruments to create an unusual sound environment, it sounds like he's playing synth guitar similar to something Pat Metheny would play, layering the sound to create a duet between the two instruments. They develop a wide variety of textures and ideas toward the end of the album, beginning with "Spinal Fusion" with Smith setting drum machine like beats, and Pirog building long tones of guitar and electronics sweeping into a glitching lurching performance. "Untitled Atlas"uses Formanek's scraping bowed bass to excellent effect adding fascinating texture, then the focus shifts to an alluring drumbeat met with smears of electronic sound, resolving itself finally with a heavy drumbeat with electronics to push to the end. The final track is an edit of "Danger Play / Pocket Poem / Mori Point" which combines some of the most interesting passages of the album where tones are built up in layers amid beats silences, followed by a cut to a burst of faster, more colorful playing. The musicians create an interesting album, one that is in constant motion, trying to cram in all of the influences that Pirog has absorbed in his guitar playing life. Zooming from style to genre and touching on them briefly gives the album a hallucinatory, kaleidoscopic effect, while still maintaining a personal touch. Pocket Poem -

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