Review of Music From a Parallel World Vol 4. New Music For Electric Guitar by Sergio Sorrentino, Map Classics 2015
The Electric guitar… popular instrument par excellence, synonymous with rebellion and youthful rock energy, since a long time has started a new evolution path within contemporary music. Nothing bad, in fact, I personally welcome the development of new possibilities and new paths, what I wonder, and that leaves me perplexed at times, it’s how an instrument characterized by such an idiomatic language (mainly related to rock in its various shades from rockabilly to heavy metal, and jazz, a very broad genre that goes by Charlie Christian’s innovations to Derek Bailey’s free improvisation, through Wes Montgomery), crafted with an industrial-Fordist type production and played with a complex guitar-amp-effects chain, could be effectively managed by academic-classical trained composers. When a composer thinks about a piece for electric guitar has he in mind all these elements? I try to simplify and synthesize these thoughts with a concrete example: the two most popular electric guitars, the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul, have completely different specifications right from the type of wood used, the vibrato tremolo absent in the Les Paul , the type of pick-up employed. These technical differences, enhanced by various guitar heroes, have helped to impose substantial stylistic differences in not only the various music’s genres, but also in the differente versions of the same song played and the playing techniques adopted. This is obviously part of popular music, but how does this impact in front of a contemporary music score? Does the composer specifically require the execution with a particular instrument with certain requirements? The sound changes depending on the type of pedal you use … a Boss distortion’s pedal sounds different from an Ibanez Tube Screaming, a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier doesn’t sound like a Marshall, etc .. these are all details that impact significantly in the (noise) audio chain and, above all, in the final result. This is a my personal obsession that fascinates me and is teasing me back listening to this Sergio Sorrentino’s record for solo electric guitar: the reason is linked to the fact that Sergio has opted for an instrument with very specific characteristics, the Eric Clapton’s Blackie. Now. Is it possible to think about an instrument less suited to contemporary music then the guitar of one of the god of the blues? Its technical characteristics (Clapton never used the vibrato tremolo choosing to lock the Fender’s moving tremolo with a block of wood) does not place it among the most instruments adopted by the contemporary music performers who usually choose stylistically more versatile, less iconic and with less personal and defined characteristics electric guitars.
On this record, entitled “Music from a parallel word vol 4 New music for electric guitar”, we find far distant languages from what popular and pop music normally have accustomed us: rock and pop are used more as a color and as a citation in ” Rocking Up” by Stefano Taglietti, defined by the author himself” a bridge towards expressivityand solo virtuosity”, and in “A Due” by Bruno Canino (the author talks about a possible highway, but could also be a chess move), a piece that combines electric guitar and piano (union already successful in jazz) which quotes Beatles’s Michelle. Alfredo Franco takes inspiration from the famous and crude Goya’s engravings in his “Los Disastres de la guerra”, while Mauro Montalbetti prefers to transfer the concerns of a “Lunar Lanscape” in an electric, melodic and contemplative vision. The “De Nocturno Visu ” by Azio Corghi is an electric guitar’s transcription of Nocturnus Visus for solo clarinet in 1999, called by the composer “a frightening nightmare, lullaby and rocking paces alternate, where the erotic component gets “interfered” by the appereance of death”. The cd ends with what I consider to be the most cinematic passage: “Monstrous ships” by Fabrizio De Rossi Re, a surround vision of the ships graveyard in Port-Etienne in Mauritania: here Sorrentino’s guitar can play a blues,an abandonment, rusty blues, that sings the slow corruption of these sea’s metal giants, whose metal discarded in the sea surrounded by electric sirens who sing Blackie’s strings.