Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Guitarist Greg Malcolm appeared recently at Elsewhere with the album A Feast of Tones (in the Experimental Guitars of Aotearoa series) with percussion player Chris O'Connor, recorded live at Auckland's Audio Foundation in 2017.
If that was perhaps a challenge for many – improvised music can be, we understand that – then this solo outing recorded at the Audio Foundation in July 2020 has more low-key charm across the nine pieces, in part perhaps as a result of Malcolm playing the restored 1950s Hofner semi-acoustic which belonged to his grandfather, the Jim of the title.
What also makes this more approachable is Malcolm exploring music of the klezmer (Jewish) and rembetika (Greek) folk styles, so there are parameters to his improvisations drawn in by melodic patterns.
Even the six minute Street Tune which opens with stuttering noise and staccato percussive effects over a low throb shifts towards a downbeat folk melody which goes somewhere close to a gloomy Appalachian ballad.
Malcolm also prepares the guitar with wire threaded through the springs, a rubber band over the fretboard, a spring over the nut etc as well as incorporating additional ambient sounds, pedals and his own percussive effects.
But few of those detract from the central ethos here of an exploration of often simple folk-type melodies extrapolated and/or explored.
If the idea of “experimental guitar” is a bit off-putting, this quiet collection could just be your way in.
You can buy and hear this album at bandcamp here where there is also a limited edition of 150 vinyl copies. The album comes with an informative booklet about Jim's story and details on each track.