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Solo Guitar

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Album Review

Alan Sparhawk's first solo album is a significant departure from his primary band Low's slow-core sound. Recorded as some sort of live experiment, there is no real song structure, or indeed anything but the mercury waves and frenetic cries of a solo electric guitar. What results is an album that invokes a wide range of moods while also managing to be sonically consistent, allowing each piece to add to the unified whole. Largely the songs seem to be musical interpretations of the conditions surrounding a freighter's voyage; take the trio of "How a Freighter Comes Into the Harbor," "How The Weather Hits the Freighter," "...In the Harbor," for example. This is not fancy guitar work by any means, but rather an exploration into how a guitar's sound can be manipulated and mutated to create various atmospheres through unconventional methods, and very likely with the use of an arsenal of effect pedals. Sparhawk certainly achieves several unique, transcendent moments, especially in "Sagrado Corazon De Jesu (Second Attempt)" and "How It Ends." Occasionally, though, the lengthy washes of sound devolve into meandering repetition, even in a few spots to unlistenable noise, and this is when the project loses a certain amount of appeal. That said, it is still a fascinating statement through-and-through, devoid of conventional structure, but often fully captivating and emotionally poignant.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Alan Sparhawk and his wife Mimi Parker formed the minimalist slowcore group Low in 1993 to counter the then-burgeoning grunge scene of Duluth, MN. As vocalist and guitarist, Sparhawk led the influential indie outfit to more widespread attention with the much-lauded Things We Lost in the Fire, and the band's profile increased a bit more when they signed to Sub Pop in 2005. He has also had a hand in numerous side projects, including the bluesy, rollicking Black-Eyed Snakes, and Retribution Gospel Choir...
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Solo Guitar, Alan Sparhawk
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