While the new class of instrumental guitarists is swelling these days, there are some that are born to break with traditions and stalk off into more ambitious territory. Such is the case with Ohio guitarist Matthew Rolin. The songwriter has been having a hell of a run the past few years, with solo works piling up for Feeding Tube, Garden Tube, and Blue Hole, while maintaining equally exploratory combos with his partner, dulcimer player Jen Powers, and drummer Jayson Gerycz. He’s back at the Tube for his latest, a massive double LP entitled The Dreaming Bridge, and with this he steps even further from the lone rippler medium. Rolin leaves the Takoma comparisons floundering in the wind as he walks away without even a casual glance backwards. The new album embraces a panoramic scope, weaving his impossibly complex, yet tender playing into duels with saxophonist Patrick Shiroshi, then jettisoning the guitar altogether for a dulcimer duet with Powers and the lure of meditative singing bowls before cracking open the sky on a sidelong sendoff in the form of the title track.
Striking quite a few parallels with contemporaries Daniel Bachman, Robert Noyes, and William Tyler, who’ve all sought to step outside the expectations of their genre in the past years as well, Rolin’s pieces have a larger scope to them, devouring experimentation while never losing the spark of hypnotic beauty within. The Dreaming Bridge opens like a portal into another world. The strings conjure deep-set natural greens, laced with shadows of the deepest black. They streak the speakers with sparks and loose cinders of sound, tumbling through the album in luminous waves that beckon the listener further. Once the portal is breached, it’s as if each song was a room connected to the next, the hazed journey a jumble set to the disorienting, yet delighting constraints of time in a dream. It’s fairly safe to say this is Rolin’s most ambitious record yet, a proper document for his acumen and a testament to his ability to craft an alcove of sonorous bliss.
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