Posts Tagged ‘Chris Forsyth’

Chris Forsyth

On his last outing, I’d noted that Chris Forsyth was pushing for ecstasy and coming damn close, and it seems that he’s gone ahead and finally touched the nerve on his ambitious double LP for No Quarter. All Time Present is a bigger, looser, sandier, and more hypnotic version of what Forsyth has become known for. Yanking the bit out of the teeth of Crazy Horse, he’s hitched it to a more cosmic conveyance this time around. The album finds its footing in the air-lock licks of ‘80s Robert Quine, the brittle balance of Michio Kurihara, and the desert playa chug of Tuareg players lost in deep in the trance of an unknown groove.

The album uses its considerable length as sky-high canvas, letting more than a few songs saunter up past the nine minute marker, but there’s never a sense that a note is dipped in indulgence. Four sides slip by in a fever dream daze that’s soaked in sweat and writhing in the wraps of psychedelia, folk, krautrock, and free jazz. Forsyth weaves a stylistic quilt that refines and nudges forward notions of the instrumental guitar album, never bogging down into pieces that feel like tessellations of the same idea, but instead locking together his disparate visions into a gnarled puzzle that tears open the sky with the lash of strings and cinder.

Though it would be a disservice to Chris’ own vocal contribution on “Mystic Mountain,” which he pulls off with a more tender touch than in the past, to let this off as simply an instrumental album. Similarly, the mirage manifestations of Rosalie Middleman are a highlight as she anchors the transcendental tangle of “Dream Song” to this plane. She’s not the only ringer in the ranks either. Forsyth enlists drummer Ryan Jewell (who’s seemingly everywhere this year) and Jeff Ziegler alongside members of his Solar Motel Band. They seed the album with all manner of musical minutia, culminating in the tower trance of “Techno Top,” a Neu/Rother inspired piece that’s well beyond the pale of what Forsyth had been tackling on earlier albums. He’s already proven it to be a crusher in the live setting, and it closes off the album in perfect pulsations. Forsyth has consistently proven to be a guitarist that transcends the tags associated with merely wrangling strings. On All Time Present he’s a songwriter shaping air into harmonious bursts of pain, joy, and danger and making it all sound vital.



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Chris Forsyth on Robert Quine & Fred Maher – Basic

Over the past few years there have been few guitarists as singular and intriguing in moving the needle forward as Chris Forsyth. As I’ve mentioned in the past, he aims for some sort of ragged, ozone-blasted bliss and always come up shaking off the cinder and ash of sonic debris. He’s exactly the sort I’m always looking for with Hidden Gems – an artist with a perspective informed by years of carving through likeminded stringsmiths to better his feel for the instrument. Its no surprise that when asked what record was sorely overlooked he found solace in another singular guitarist, but his pick is as off the path of usual touchstones as one might hope. Picking a out a piece of Robert Quine’s history, Chris opts for an oft overlooked collaborative record from 1984 with Fred Maher. Check out how this came into his life and what impact the record and Quine have had on his music.

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Chris Forsyth – “Tomorrow Might as Well Be Today” & “Mystic Mountain”

The last record from Chris Forsyth was a monster of guitar grit – his style is emotive, fire-ridden, and fluid, but not flashy or maddeningly technical. Dreaming in the Non-Dream felt like it barely fit into the one LP allowed, especially the namesake shaker. For the follow-up Forsyth has spread the fire onto four sides of wax, for an even heavier statement that begins with these two tracks. “Tomorrow Might As Well Be Today” is a pronouncement of what’s to come. It’s a gauntlet asserting Forsyth’s place in any imagined pantheon, but its quickly supplanted by the hearth-hammered rocker that follows it. “Mystic Mountain” is Forsyth and the Solar Motel band taking root and burning a circle of ash around them not only with the power of their performance but with the fire-throated growl of Chris’ vocals as well. The song-writer doesn’t always chime in with words, but “Mystic Mountain” makes its case for quality over quantity. Like that David Nance LP from last year, this has all the earmarks of an album ready to writhe. Make sure you’re paying attention.



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RSTB Best of 2017

So this year is drawing to a close, or almost, we’re still a few weeks away from pushing the broken pieces of 2017 into the trash. There’s no real solace from a lot of the events that took place this year, but, independent of any current events, music has been kind to us all this year. These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable over here. Yeah, I know its kind of a lot, but there were far too many good ones that haven’t been getting the shouts they need elsewhere. Lets say this serves as both a best of and a most overlooked in one go. If you enjoy ’em, buy ’em if you can. Don’t do them the disservice of just bumping up the streaming numbers.

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Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band

The Solar Motel Band’s been creeping ’round infinity for sometime, but Forsyth and his clutch of cosmic travelers push to the edges on Dreaming In The Non-Dream – a thinly-veiled balm for troubled times. The record stretches out like endless lands populated by Crazy Horse courtesans weaving bajas from the thread left behind in the wake of parades pitched for Robert Wyatt, Television and The dirt-country versions of The Stones. A lesser soul might say The Eagles had a hand in the formula, but maybe knock that notion out of your mouth. This is a higher plain of existence than mere AM Gold can contain.

Forsyth burns ozone, biting his guitars into the bone and then turning up the heat until they smolder to a fine ash. He’s pushing for ecstasy often here, and coming damn close to some sort of musical version of it – dazed and zoned to an infinite chord that’s just out of reach. The record is largely instrumental, but when Forsyth’s dusted croon peeks through the ragged curtains of guitar, his weathered delivery frames the chugging, cinder-swept runs with ragged perfection.

The main events here are the twin-armed attacks of opener “History & Science Fiction” and the title track. Both stretch out into widescreen vistas of six string rumble doused in a chemical clear cut. However, not a note is wasted on Dreaming In The Non-Dream, the coda-cap of “Two-Minutes Love” cools like a Thorazine splashdown from the heightened senses pricked to life over the first three tracks and “Have We Mistaken The Bottle For The Whiskey Inside?” shows crinkled troubadours how to wail again. Without question, Forsyth has always been a force in American guitar, but here he’s letting the ire under his skin seep out into a tangible form that lets this album perch atop his catalog.




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Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band – “Dreaming In The Non-Dream”

Whew, Forsyth comes into his own on this one. Not that the guitarist has been slacking, his Solar Motel Band has been excavating their own cavern of psych for a long time, but on his latest record he’s reaching to a new level of intensity. With his teeth sharpened and the kind of motorik instincts that drove Neu to repetitive stress, he’s let a monster down on the world in the form of the title track off his latest LP, “Dreaming In The Non-Dream.” The track’s a blistered American bar guitar workout gone cosmic – Pere Ubu and The Dead shot through the soul of Hawkwind and Ash Ra Temple. I’ve often held Forsyth in high regard, but this album seems to have actualized his soul and burnt it out through the wires. Damn well worth looking into and keeping your eyes on.




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Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp

The second matchup between these two purveyors of experimental headspace proves that there’s some definite aural chemistry between the pair. This time the two brought their collaborations together quicker, recording over a weekend at the shore rather than a full year of tinkering. The result doesn’t sound rushed, rather it crackles with the kind of excitement that’s born out of two minds bouncing off of one another. The first track rushes headlong into electronics, but its squelchy tones prove the exception on the album as the rest settles into the sand of strums and slides of guitar with just the setting sun of hum weaving throughout. Truthfully this does sound like a thoughtfully composed record, especially songs like standout “Long Beach Idyll” and the meditative crunch of “Alternator.” Then they tie it all together with a ten-minute workout of rippling, hypnotic strum that melts like last days of summer.

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