Slider: Ambient Excursions For Pedal Steel Guitarby Bruce Kaphan
Most folks know Bruce Kaphan -- if they know him at all -- as the steel guitar player who crafted the wondrously dark, emotional soundscapes of the late, great American Music Club, or traveling with David Byrne or gracing albums by R.E.M. and Red House Painters with his silvery liquid sheen. Here, on his debut solo project, Kaphan makes full use of the pedal steel as a vehicle for environments and textures that are intimate, stunningly beautiful, and even spiritual -- as a proper improvising musician would, not as merely a player of the steel guitar. Kaphan's manipulation of the instrument is total; he redefines its context not by trying to make it something other than it is, but by using the instrument exactly as it was intended, as one of coloration and harmonic invention -- and Kaphan's harmonic sensibilities are sophisticated, wide-open, and deftly executed. Once upon a time, B.J. Cole attempted this very thing, but his methodology was flawed -- he tried to apply the pedal steel to indigenous musics as a natural counterpart rather than as an instrument with many voices that could be welcome anywhere as itself. Along with the pedal steel, Kaphan plays virtually every instrument on the disc, except for a fretless bass on "Clouds," the glorious travelscape that opens the record with the steel and fretless tying loose knots around one another. And that's just what Slider is, a record of traveling stories, of dreams and excursions into the netherworld of sound, where it lies in stillness waiting to be activated by a willing accomplice. There are numerous styles and instrumentations where the languid, shimmering steel collides and rides with dobro, Indian percussion, electronics, sound effects, and streaming guitars and basses into a portrait of sound -- silver sound, to be specific -- articulating itself in the heart of the heart of the musician as it speaks to the heart of the heart of the listener with grace, aplomb, and manifest musicality. This is a language that has never before been spoken; it should be listened to as carefully as that, but can be enjoyed merely for the spaces and atmospheres for dreaming it also provides. This is the edgiest record Hearts of Space has put out in years.
- Release Date:
- Hearts Of Space
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