Talking about Pierre Bensusan
I met Pierre Bensusan in a really random way, buying and reading a copy of the italian magazine “Chitarre” in 1987, No. 11 February 1987. I bought it for the cover and for the interview dedicated to Eric Clapton, I admit, but inside I found too an interesting interview to this acoustic French guitarist, thirty years old, who was beginning to reach a wider audience. With that interview I began to know about open tunings (Bensusan already adopted the DADGAD), about Arab music, about other guitarists on which I questioned in the following years in a desperate search of a record, a CD to listen to. This is usually the moment when my peers forties would tell you how difficult it was at those time to find a drive off the beaten path, there was no Internet, there were no social networks, etc. all true, all boring so but now you’ll feel sick so I will stop here, you need only know that since then I started looking for Bensusan, about his records and the coordinates that he had given me in that interview curated by Luigi Grechi.
The first disc that I could get my hands on, five years later, was “Spices” (1988) found at low price in a sales correspondence catalog, filed under the New Age’s section. New Age! New Age my socks! I listened to the disc and re-read the interview again and I found myself all what Bensusan had said six years earlier: Celtic music, the Arab-Mediterranean music, jazz, an exquisite and kind touch and touch, never too much and never too emphatic or melismatic. Pierre Bensusan was confirmed to be a complete, interesting and above all original musician, already outside of the patterns that the market at those time required for those “world musics”.
The second album was Wu Wei (1993), found in a second hands CDs stand and it was another reconfirmation, always the same issues as above, but with a greater unanimity, I discovered that Bensusan, unlike his colleagues, he did not like so much to play alone, but working with small ensembles consisting of bass, percussion, wind instruments (clarinet, oboe) and maybe even, my horror, singing. Not exactly the guitar hero that I expected but not one can go against hiw own heroes.
Today these problems are over: I want a record? I have enough choice on where to look for and so I decided to return to Bensusan and to look for a solo record, finding this “Intuite”, made in 2000, and I found that in the meantime our guitarist had created his own label, the DADGAD Music (Nomen est homen) through which convey and promote his music.
If you are looking for a Bensusan’s guitar solo record… buy it, you will not be disappointed. There is everything in it, better than any collection because Pierre wanted to not only create new songs but also arrange differently other music taken from previous albums, playing them for solo guitar, giving them new life and new enamel.
Musics are beautiful, intimate and Bensusan remains a true master of his kind, his technique is reminiscent of the ideas of David Graham and there is no doubt that he is able to maintain the highest quality standards without ever giving in to complacency or the lure of a market and an audience in search of glossy, lounge and Buddha Bar excitements. And if you are interested in open tunings then the disc becomes indispensable: Bensusan has always been a true master of the genre and his type of modal tuning and the use of arpeggiated chords and open strings always leaves you spellbound. Let yourself be conquered, it is worth it.