Review of SEEK by Maurizio Grandinetti, United Phoenix Records, 2016
Maurizio Grandinetti is definitely not one that makes things in a hurry. It took thirteen years, before giving a sequel to his first album, the excellent Equivoci, produced for the italian label Manifesto back in 2003, with music by John Cage and Dowland. But this long wait was not in vain, Grandinetti, a true perfectionist has achieved another excellent work, where this time the protagonist is the electric guitar.
This cd, named SEEK is a very complex work, which can take different interpretations, let’s start.
Let’s start with the cover, a geometric contrasting black and white polygons, work of the Italian-Swiss Marco Papiro. Papiro is an artist who divides his time between music and the world of graphics. If you visit his website you will find more examples of his interest in graphic which combines, in a curious and effective way, elements of Dada and rationalists. In this cover there is no room for other colors, no space for a division of space that is not clear and precise, no shadows …
The second interesting image is inside the cd: a black and white probably manipulated with photoshop showing Grandinetti holding what is probably a Paul Reed Smith Thinline with f-holes, except that, in the picture, this guitar becomes almost a cubist object: its handle and its keyboard dart within the picture, while its body has been modified, cut, redesigned in a decomposed and different form. The music. In this CD we have seven passages, all for solo electric guitar, with the exception of nearly tango “Take Life as a Slow Motion Suicide Process” by Marcello Nisinman which also includes the presence of Wendy Moten on voice and the composer himself on bandoneon. It begins with listening to “ata-11” by the composer Alex Buess, author of a song can bring to the tonal and atonal exploration of the limits of the electric instrument. Following is “Seek” by Elliott Sharp, a song dedicated to Maurizio Grandinetti and characterized by a marked virtuosity, particularly in the use of the tapping technique, characteristic of many works for Sharp guitar. Moody is the song written by the Korean composer Jungae Lee, she studied composition with ByungDong Paik at Seoul National University and later attended master classes with Isang Yun and Toru Takemitsu. In 1991 she moved to Basel, home of the Phoenix Ensemble Basel, where she studied electronic music and harpsichord at the Musik-Akademie. Moody is the only song she composed for electric guitar, and it’s characterized by very decisive “sound colors”.
Even “Pit Stop” by Domenico Caliri is a song decisively characterized by the need of a virtuoso technique, while ‘Scuse Me “by Eric Chasalow proves to be the best and most effective tribute that has ever been created in honor of the great Jimy Hendrix, where electric guitar performs a mix of reworkings of guitar fragments, riffs and Hendrix’s licks. The record is closed by the “Electric Cat” by Volker Heyn, German composer based in Darmstadt, where here continues the exploration of timbre reconnecting ideally to Buess’s track and closing in an ideal sound circle this excellent CD. SEEK is a really interesting and above all a “true” record. No compromise.
“Excuse me while I kiss the sky!”
“Seek, composed for Maurizio Grandinetti, may be considered to be part of a series of virtuoso pieces including Ecliptical for Magnus Andersson and Amygdala for Marco Cappelli. All three musicians bravely extend the boundaries of contemporary guitar music and will fearlessly employ any technique, any instrument, to manifest the necessary sounds. In Seek, tapped chords, clusters, and sequences, generate clouds of overtones and melodic/rhythmic skeins of sound where foreground and background freely shift.”