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Endangered Guitar

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Album Review

The experimental music scene has its share of worthy guitarists (Fred Frith and René Lussier would be two of them), but with Endangered Guitar, Hans Tammen delivers something different. Although the album is not very long (47 minutes), it contains 20 tracks, each of them offering a different view on the electric guitar. Tammen's preparations are varied, inventive, and even with tricks often used by other avant-garde guitarists (such as the use of a battery-powered miniature fan on the strings) he stays away from clichés. His use of the E-bow redefines the gadget. The short pieces are grouped by three or four, but the ensembles created are artificial: each piece stands on its own. Most of the track titles are self-explanatory: on "Stone Age" Tammen plays with stones on the guitar, he uses measuring tape on "Taking Measures," and grounded backward playing on "Stuttering Backwards." "Vier Freunde" is an almost unbearable four and a half minutes of excruciatingly loud feedback, but all other tracks are very enjoyable. Endangered Guitars could be experimental German label Nurnichtnur's release with the broadest appeal to music fans. Although it could be retitled "Possibilities of the Electric Guitar in Experimental Music" and targeted to young guitarists, the album never falls into clinical exhibition. It's fresh, lively, varied, and thoroughly interesting. Highly recommended. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Hans Tammen calls his style of performance "endangered guitar," presumably because of the extreme alterations he enacts upon his instrument's sound and construction. Tammen "prepares" his guitar in much the same sense that John Cage prepared the piano; he also processes and manipulates his live sound through a computer system that's based on Cycling 74's Max/MSP program. Tammen was given his first guitar by his grandfather at age 15 -- an old instrument that had been lying in a basement. Influenced...
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Endangered Guitar, Hans Tammen
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