Fractal Guitar by Stephan Thelen, MoonJune Records, 2019
Track Listing: Briefing For A Descent Into Hell; Road Movie; Fractal Guitar; Radiant Day; Urban Nightscape.
This album stems from the personal urgency of Stephan Thelen to return to experimentation and play with guitar effects after years spent playing with the avant prog group Sonar. The result goes well beyond the most optimistic expectations: this record is a pure concentrate of talent and inspiration.
His creation recalls something of the supergroups that were created in the late 60s and 70s, talentuaois musicians who joined forces togheter for a specific project and once only. Each song, and there are five in the CD, tells a story in itself, a self-contained chapter that can be listen to as a part of the record, a single stone in a larger mosaic. What all these songs have in common? First of all the rhythm, the result of an exceptional work done by Matt Tate with his U8 touch guitar (bass), a true generator of continuous, robust and hypnotic bass lines and the precise, millimetric, tireless drums played by Manuel Pasquinelli and Benno Kaiser .
Why a supergroup? Look at the names of the guitarists present in the record, the list is impressive. Apart from the same Thelen we find David Torn, Markus Reuter (who lately seems to have won the first prize as the most active guitarist on the scene), Henry Kaiser, Jon Durant, Bill Walker and Barry Cleveland. A really interesting concentration. Personally I listened to this record until I lost the notion of which songs I was listening to. I gave up trying to figure out who was playing what and I got lost in the interweaving of guitars, repeated loops, and the wonderful precision of their process. I got lost in the structure and architecture of sounds and songs. I gave up looking for a path and I was fascinated by the plot. The point is that in this album everything has been worked with chisel, every detail is perfect, there is not a comma out of place, the production is splendid, the sound is full of lush, the melodies and the echoes grow and develop like a tropical jungle Fractal Guitar reaches the perfect level where the repetition becomes comfortable and comforting, where the loop and the delay touch the counterpoint, where the interplay between the musicians reaches the discrete elegance of a Victorian mechanism, where the listener enters the process and it leaves you fascinated by that kaleidoscope of echoes and rebounds that these musicians have been able to accurately create. Fractal Guitar is a three-dimensional sound spider web.