Review of Adrian Utley’s Guitar Orchestra In C, Invada, 2013
Adrian Utley, guitarist of the famous trip-hop group Portishead, returns to the stage with a record that should teach something to those who dismissed summarily and quickly that musical movement that arose in the mid-90s in Bristol. Trip-hop records like Dummy and as those by Massive Attack are more than mere entertainment music, they are contemporary ways of rereading styles that have long been present in popular music, such as electronic music, dub, slow hip hop and the English house, mixing with elements of psychedelic music cues and jazz, funk and soul.
The Portishead are the standard bearers of this kind of music, they have produced only a few records but leaving a lasting mark. Utley’s guitar is one of the mainstays of their sound, a sound which, I repeat, look beyond the entertainment anytime, throwing bridges and links with other aspects of contemporary art, visual art and videos in particular.
While waiting for the next Portishead, Utley has thought well to use his time with his guitar orchestra, an ensemble consisting of 19 electric guitars, four electric organs (probably taken from his collection of vintage keyboards) clarinet and I base percussion, playin and recording In C, by Terry Riley.
How is this version? I would say very trip-hop. And the slowest among those I heard so far, the pulse travels peaceful around about 80 bpm, creating a calm and relaxed atmosphere, accentuated by the almost hypnotic slowness of certain steps and the use of vintage sounds of the four keyboards engaged here taht, Federico Capitoni writes, in his seminal book “In C – Opera Aperta”, offer a tribute to the early works (Music in Twelve Parts in particular) by Glass and Reich.
I like a lot use of the bass clarinet, a solution similar to Eric Dolphy, and the clean and natural timbre of electric guitars. Their use without pedals or distortion or other gadgets keeps the original attack of the instruments and the masses of sounds typical of other interpretations, have here a more peaceful and tonally clean character. Sixty minutes of pure pleasure.