12 Songs, 51 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

As the pedal steel guitarist for San Francisco’s American Music Club, Bruce Kaphan was the band’s main musical architect. He took the pedal steel and found a place for it outside its usual country music borders. His intuitive grasp of musical space gave the band an edge they never regained after his departure. His solo albums have an instrumental excitement to them, uncommon considering the calm and austere tones for which Kaphan is best fitted. Hybrid, his second solo album, is once again a tour of a world that’s part Twin Peaks, part southwestern desert reverie, part auditory hallucination. Tracks such as “Dust Bowl Revisited,” “Loops For Larry” and “Legacy” don’t attempt to refine genres, so much as ignore the very idea that genres exist. “Renewal” suggests a sophisticated nod towards country music. “There But 4” adds enough drums to make for country rock. This is one phenomenal album. If you were ever an American Music Club fan, you will instantly realize what the band is missing. Singer Mark Eitzel may have been the chief songwriter, but Kaphan was his necessary foil.

EDITORS’ NOTES

As the pedal steel guitarist for San Francisco’s American Music Club, Bruce Kaphan was the band’s main musical architect. He took the pedal steel and found a place for it outside its usual country music borders. His intuitive grasp of musical space gave the band an edge they never regained after his departure. His solo albums have an instrumental excitement to them, uncommon considering the calm and austere tones for which Kaphan is best fitted. Hybrid, his second solo album, is once again a tour of a world that’s part Twin Peaks, part southwestern desert reverie, part auditory hallucination. Tracks such as “Dust Bowl Revisited,” “Loops For Larry” and “Legacy” don’t attempt to refine genres, so much as ignore the very idea that genres exist. “Renewal” suggests a sophisticated nod towards country music. “There But 4” adds enough drums to make for country rock. This is one phenomenal album. If you were ever an American Music Club fan, you will instantly realize what the band is missing. Singer Mark Eitzel may have been the chief songwriter, but Kaphan was his necessary foil.

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About Bruce Kaphan

Bruce Kaphan led the pedal steel guitar away from its traditional country music roots and into the land of alternative rock when he played with American Music Club. He has recorded as a solo artist, too, and released the instrumental album Slider: Ambient Excursions for Pedal Steel Guitar, in 2001, through Hearts of Space. His pedal steel guitar can be heard on John Lee Hooker's Chill Out, which garnered a Grammy Award, and Jealous, which was nominated for a Grammy. He also contributed to recordings by such artists as Jewel, Chris Isaak, the Black Crowes, R.E.M., Red House Painters, Love & Rockets, and Jellyfish. Later session work included recordings for Glasstown, Dakota Suite, and Sheryl Crow. Engineering credits include work for Crooked Jades and Cracker. He also toured with David Byrne during the late '90s. His time with American Music Club included tours across Europe and North America, as well as contributions as an engineer and producer on the group's Everclear album in 1992. Rolling Stone placed the release among the year's Top Five. Kaphan also is involved in sound design, and producing and composing music for documentaries, industrial films, and movies. In 2000, one of his scores took top prize in its category at the Northern California Film & Video Festival. In addition to the pedal steel guitar, Kaphan plays numerous other instruments, among them the mandolin, viola, bass, fiddle, keyboards, dobro, and drums. He also is a writer and has been published in Recording and EQ magazines. ~ Linda Seida

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