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(65:39, MGP Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Followers 7:54 2. Looking West 6:44 3. Tales 4:48 4. The Bridge 5:28 5. Serene 7:03 6. Chasing Kites 4:13 7. Riversides 4:31 8. Compass Points 4:57 9. Breezing On 4:23 10. Libra 6:42 11. Bluster 4:40 12. Uzun Ince Bir Yoldayim 4:16 LINEUP: Pete Oxley – guitars; synthesizer Nicolas Meier – guitars; glissentar, synthbaglama
Prolusion. UK artist Pete OXLEY and Swiss, UK-based guitarist Nicolas MEIER are both renowned names in the world of music, Oxley with a number of different projects from the early ‘80s and onward, while the younger Meier started out around a decade later, and has his own jazz band, has played with the likes of Jeff Beck, and also has a side career as the guitarist and leader of the new metal band Seven7. The two guitarists started cooperating a few years back, and have so far released two albums featuring their collaborative efforts. "Chasing Tales" is the most recent of these, and was issued through the UK label MGP Records in 2015.
Analysis. As both of these musicians have an active career as jazz musicians, one might expect that when they collaborate the end result will be music in that genre as well. This is actually the case too, but perhaps in a rather different manner than expected. The main and key instruments used on this recoroding are guitars of various kinds, and then first and foremost acoustic guitars. So while this is an album firmly rooted in jazz traditions, it is in the guise of guitar-driven and mainly acoustic jazz, rather than a more elaborate band-oriented excursion. The album showcases instrumentalists that are fond of subtle nuances, and they generally shy away from a more distinct solo and rhythm guitar role as well. One instrument will usually have a dominant role, but in the greater majority of these compositions, that may or may not have an improvisational nature to them, the dominant and supplemental instrument tends to be tightly intertwined, and a key feature in many of these cuts is the smooth manner in which the guitarists switch back and forth between having a dominant and a supplemental role in the proceedings. Smooth and elegant, creating the impression that such a switch of roles is far easier than it actually is. Plucked, wandering guitars with plenty of room and air for resonating, individual notes are the order of the day more often than not, occasionally with electric and acoustic guitars combined rather than a dual set of acoustic guitars, on rare occasions with plucked soloing over dampened chords or flowing electric guitar solo runs on top of an acoustic base. Gliding synth guitar textures are applied to good effect on a couple of occasions, while an almost inaudible floating synth texture is used to soften the overall atmosphere on the composition named Serene. On a few occasions they opt to include elements subtly more unusual as well, as with the voice-like guitar effect applied on Breezing On, subtle world music details on The Bridge and more prominent world music-oriented scales and notes applied in the brilliant Riversides, which is the standout composition here. Those fond of world music will most likely find the concluding track Uzun Ince Bir Yoldayim to be even more interesting in that context, as the guitarists on this cover track, the only one on this CD, take on a purebred world music style that has a distinct Middle East vibe to it.
Conclusion. An hour long album of material featuring two guitars only, albeit with a few overdubs and additions here and there, takes skilled composers and skilled performances to be able to maintain tension and interest. Oxley and Meier are both proven quality men in both departments, and the end result is an engaging and intriguing excursion into mainly acoustic guitar based jazz. First and foremost a production that will intrigue those with an affection for music of that specific nature, but a worthwhile album to seek out also if you tend to be intrigued by quality musicians exploring a type of music they both appear to have a deep affection for.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 21, 2015
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